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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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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coping

For those who stumble upon this post simply because you were searching for a DIY project or recipe, you’re in for something different today. My father, Stan, passed away four weeks ago – complications from an illness that plagued him for the past 5 or so years. He was 67, and even though I knew he was sick, I think I had convinced myself he would always “bounce back”. Needless to say, it felt sudden to me.

This post is for my friends who have been asking after me since the passing of my father. I thought it would be helpful to me to write out my thoughts, and perhaps helpful for you and maybe others to read it.

How am I? I’m fine. Really. Seems weird huh?

I’m fine because I can’t cope being any other way. I’m either fine – this very controlled state which I’m currently residing – or I’m desperately hurting.

I’m laughing, surfing the web, being lazy, going for walks, cooking dinner – with grief just a moment away, like it’s something hovering behind me. It may appear as if life is functioning as it did 5 weeks ago – but I’m a different person. It’s so hard to articulate, I feel as if I’ve deepened some cavern in my soul. Something has happened in my life that is terribly sad and changed my path. Physically, I can’t be conscious of all that’s happened, but it’s happened. I don’t want to ignore it. I don’t want you to ignore it. But I can’t express my anger or grief readily for all to see. So please, ask me about it. I want to be asked. My carrying on as normal is not a sign that I’m done with it or that I don’t want to talk about it. I do.

I often find my emotions shutting off with a flip of a switch. Suddenly I can’t be sad. I can’t be angry. Try as hard as I might…there’s nothing there to draw on. I wonder if that’s a safety mechanism. Are the feelings too great for me to handle?

SO, If I want to function in any way, I can’t allow myself to “go there”. Most of the time I ignore it. When I can’t ignore it, a long drive in our radio-less car, a shower, struggling to fall asleep, those are the moments I start to see pictures. Flashes of my dad. His hands – his squared thumbnail, his rings. His hugs – pats on the back, the smell of his leather jacket. His laugh – his chipped front tooth, cracking lips, squeaky eye rub, the amusement on his face. His hospital visits – his thoughtful eyes, chapped lips, tired body.

I see flashes of our last visit at his house together. Two days before he went to the hospital for the last time, I gave him a hug as he sat on the couch, exhausted from pain. He took my palm in his palm and kissed the back of my hand gently. I can still feel it.

I wonder if he knew how sick he was then? Why didn’t I ask? Why wouldn’t he tell me? Two days later when I overheard my dad, my very own dad, tell the doctor that he was tired and ready to let his body go, absolute shock washed over me. My internal dialogue: “There has been a mistake. We shouldn’t be here. This isn’t happening. There is no way they will let that happen.” He saw me crying. To the best of his ability at the time, in all his pain he asked me if I understood. I told him I understood…but that didn’t mean I had to be happy about it.

Then he needed privacy for the nurses to tend to him, I was ushered out and spoke with the doctor about what this all meant. Why didn’t I ask him if he was scared? Why didn’t I listen better? Less than 24 hours later, he would be gone.

The thoughts of his physical presence, our tangible moments together are painful enough to remember, only because I can’t replicate them. There’s no more hugs, exchange of jokes, FroYo, or card games.

With these flashes come deeper questions. What happens now? He won’t be here when Matt and I have our first child. He won’t see me become a mom. He won’t be here to help me. And I need his help. I need my dad.

Why can’t I remember his theories on heaven? My faith has been shaken a bit, though I assume in a way that is expected and natural. For instance I find myself thinking, “I just wish I knew where he was…that it is real.”

Then come flashes of a deep festering anger. What he dedicated his life to, the church, it hurt him deeply. That’s all too common a story. My father was a super complicated person. One instance being the most warm, thoughtful and inquisitive person ever, the next he could be difficult, and set firm boundaries that often made him seem unapproachable to others. But I have to tell you…one thing that has stood out to me about who my father was that was so perfectly put by many at his memorial, is that he was someone that would SHOW UP for people. Regardless of their bullshit, their story, their difficult personalities, their broken lives. It was about them and he listened well and journeyed with people. He set aside the freakishly difficult and complex stories people brought to him…just to be present with them. He did that for people, people didn’t return the favor. I know he wasn’t perfect, trust me I do. There are times when I feel so angry at him for different reasons. But I don’t remember there being a rule that we only show up to help, understand, love, and support perfect people, or only when someone is easy to help. That’s certainly not what he did. Where was grace when he needed it?

My anger fades into a river of gratitude when I remember that there were indeed people looking out for him, people showing up. They saw the truth of what was happening in his life. The truth of how much grace he was still carrying for so many, even as they mistreated him. I am truly indebted to those who gave this brilliant and sick man, my father, a chance to live in to his full potential before he passed away. What an absolute gift they gave him. It’s all so terribly tragic and so hard to think about.

It seems he has left a chasm of complexity for me to weed through in every area of my life. The stress has subsided, which I’m grateful for, though I’m still left without him and without his affirmation for the decisions that I’ve made and will be making.

The night after he passed away, I was trying to fall asleep. I was tearful, restless. Guilt overwhelmed me. Did I do things right? Is he ok? I kept remembering things we talked about, and it was weighing down on my chest. It felt that if I exhaled, I wouldn’t have the strength to push against the weight and fill my lungs again. Suddenly I was aware of a presence in my room. It felt like my dad’s spirit was there. I was sure of it. I heard in my mind my dad’s voice say, “I’m sorry Sweetie.” A sad calm washed over me. I could breathe more easily. I’m grateful for that moment, even though it was hard.

See what I mean? What if I just walked around all day every day feeling all this crap? I can’t do it. But it hits me when I least expect it. While grocery shopping I saw a man who looked a lot like my dad. Same hair, leather jacket, gait, shoes, skin tone. I stopped and stared at him. If there had been any closer resemblance I would have asked him for a hug. I walked away to the cereal aisle, and bawled.

How am I?

I’m fine, I’m really not fine, I’m angry, I’m OK, I’m numb, I’m hurting, I’m searching, I’m alright, I’m hopeful, I’m talkative, I’m quiet, I’m tired, I’m fine.

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Sleep Chatter

My hubby is a famous sleep talker. Well, within our little Facebook circle. I’ve been told by countless people that they look forward to my posts which script out the interactions between Matt and I usually in the early moments after Matt falls asleep. In fact, I’ve had two messages from people making sure they didn’t miss one.

It’s amazing how easily he just spews out words. They don’t sound mumbled and quiet, just the opposite. One of my favorites of all time was a one-liner Matt yelled out while he napped on the couch: “You never have a Crayola when you need one!”

It takes a lot of energy to stifle my laughter.

Here are some recent examples of Matt’s entertaining craziness that made their way onto Facebook.

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Last night a friend told me about an app which records sleep talking. It senses sound all night long, but only records moments where the sound picks up. You’ll wake up to like 12 clips of tossing and turning or coughing or weird snoring…and perhaps a bit of chatter.

I just KNEW I had to download it.

Well it turns out that I’ve gotten so used to conversing with Matt while he’s sleep talking (to keep the weirdness going), that now I’m doing it in my sleep without even knowing it.

So enjoy this nice little recording of Matt and I. I’ll periodically alert you to new ones, if they come along, and dear goodness I hope they do.

Matt: “No! The whole thing untraveled!”
Haley: “What thing?”
Matt (in despair): “NNooooo”
Matt: “It was just unraveling right before our eyes.”
Haley: “Where is it?”
Matt: “It was a piece of…it was wound up on this piece of…furniture.”

simple non-toxic floor cleaner

Cleaning is not my favorite thing in the world. Really it’s something that I’ve fought for a long time. Stupid adult responsibility. While we’ve all got different standards of cleanliness, we all have to do it. I mean eventually you have to do laundry. Eventually you have to sweep. Eventually you have to clean dishes. I have all sorts of tricks up my sleeve to making cleaning “fun”. I’m motivated by activities that involve multiples senses. I like to turn on an audiobook, light a good smelling candle, have a snack in a bowl that I can grab every time I complete something, or try to get my space as bright as possible. Doing at least one of those things helps motivate me to clean.

Recently though I’ve gotten more interested in cleaning techniques, products and tricks. Often I look up new ways to clean whatever it is, which makes the whole process more enjoyable. Mopping for example. I’ve always used some chemically floor cleaner. About 3 times a year, I dump some blue super chemically smelling stuff in a bucket and mop up the floor.

I decided to try something new with the whole floor cleaning business. I found a non-toxic formula that had great feedback online and gave it a go.

IMG_8888Mix one gallon of hot water with 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2 Tbs baking soda and a few drops of your favorite dish soap.

It’s that simple. You can use it on your kitchen floor and it’s great for your wood floors. After a good sweep and dust mop, I was actually excited to clean. The moment I started mopping I could tell the difference. First off it smelled amazing and fresh. Secondly, it actually got marks off the floor much more easily than my chemically store bought stuff.

Here are some “after” photos…well more like “during” photos. I had recently finished mopping and while the floors are still shiny-wet in these photos, I’m amazed at how they’ve retained a nice reflection in them after drying.

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IMG_8896 IMG_8897But I don’t know why I felt it necessary to mop the floor this particular day. Especially since we’re in a muddy after-snow transition, and without any type of entryway for said muddy stuff the floors quickly got some nice spots on them. But hey you can’t stop living. IMG_8887Maybe I’ll tell you about my laundry tricks someday. It’s seriously a little wacky. I just like trying new things to keep it interesting, which makes my laundry methods a bit intense.

And here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure. Gideon, on nicely laundered bedding. IMG_8919

Pinterest Fail – cake from a circus fun house

First off, doesn’t this look awesome from the top?

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Yeah…but it was a fail of epic proportions. What was supposed to be a surprise cake for my hubby…well it was still a surprise, but one that involved him asking, “Is…uummm…is that part falling off?”

Here’s the inspiration…and the homemade outcome.

Desktop6Bahahaa. I can only laugh at myself for thinking I could make it look like the pictures. After all, I have never iced a cake in my life. Well I take that back. I used to decorate cakes a bit when I worked for Baskin Robbins back in my teen years. But that was all pre-made icing and was a totally different consistency since you were working with frozen products.

One of my first mistakes was when I added 3/4 teaspoons of almond extract when it should have been 1/8 teaspoon. Novice mistake. Then I added too much water to the icing. Stupid. It started sagging terribly between the layers of cake. I tried to let it dry and then re-spread it…but no.

IMG_8825IMG_8828Yeah looks like a topsy-turvy cake mistake. So instead I tried adding a little bit of texture to the sides. IMG_8830

WHATEVER! I give up. I quickly added the white borders and called it good. No wait…I called it terrible but I was done. I also made an entire batch of butter cream frosting that turned out like cottage cheese. I had NO idea you had to use real butter. Ugh. Wasted a pound of “butter” there. But you know what dammit…it tasted freakishly good.

IMG_8852Maybe next time I can achieve this…cause it’s just so beautiful.

SprinkleBakes cherry vanilla cake 6For those who are interested, I used a chocolate chiffon cake recipe that’s my fav. You can find it here. The original recipe is here, and the actual frosting recipe I ended up using is here.

valentines happy mail – 13 ounces or less

I’ve been so inspired by a new trend called “13 ounces or less“. It’s simply a reminder that you can mail just about anything that weighs 13 ounces or less. Stick stamps and an address on anything…and brighten someones day. I decided to brighten the day of three of my favorite people in the world. Giana, Samuel and Owen. My niece and two nephews. I’ve got another niece Sayla, and while she is one of my top favorite people, she is also 2 month old. Soooo I don’t think she’d appreciate happy mail like the others.

First I knew right away that valentine’s day was going to be my opportunity to mail some sweet goodness. Secondly, I chose to use some small Odwalla bottles to hold all the goodies. A pleasant decision since it required me to drink tons of it. So I drank those up and washed them out.

Next I filled them with all sorts of goodies from the dollar tree. Stickers, mini flashlights, candy hearts, erasers, chap stick, candy necklaces, etc. I even crammed some toy cars and other weird little things in there like hair clips and mini locks with a key. photo (12)

One thing I read over and over again when reading about sending “happy mail”, was to make sure the address and return address were clear. After getting all the necessary information on them I decorated them with washi-tap and fun colored sharpies, sealing the whole thing with mailing tape to prevent the labels from smearing or falling off.

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I slapped stamps onto them, and viola!!!
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Who wouldn’t love getting this in the mail!?

(You can take your item into the post office, or you can calculate it’s price if you know the weight online here. You should select the package option and enter the ounces. Then check the “first class mail and other options” sections – the first class parcel mail will be your price)

By the way…look at the fun stamps they are selling right now at the post office! How awesome are those for little tykes?!

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Happy mailing!