Friday, February 26, 2010

A little plug

My awesome sister-in-law just launched her new photography blog today. She's been cranking away at this new blog project for several months, and I think it came together great!

She is one of the best maternity and baby photographers I've ever come across (and I'm not just saying that because I'm related to her). She is truly talented. She's based in Wilmington, North Carolina, but she also comes to Minnesota (to visit me, of course!) and will do sessions for families when she's here.
Please check out her new site. You will like her work. I promise.

She also has a great giveaway right now too. It involves giving away photography sessions, so that part mostly benefits people in North Carolina and Minnesota (unless you want to plan a vacation to the beach...which you should). BUT, there is a chance that she'll give away a digital picture frame (as long as 125 people enter the contest). So everyone should go sign up!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thank you, Otis

Dear Otis,

Thank you for living up to your name -- Mr. Rude -- last night. Thank you for waking me up at 1:30 a.m. in the morning with your high-pitched bark. Thank you for dragging me out of bed so I could take you outside. Cooper thanks you too. He lived up to his name too -- Pooper. I enjoyed watching you two do outside what you should have finished doing at 10 p.m. -- BEFORE bedtime. Oh, and thank you for running upstairs, into my room and taking my spot in the bed when I let you back inside. No matter how rude you are, I will always love you.

Photo courtesy of Katie Mathews Photography


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is what winter will do to you...

Winter will make your cheeks a little chubbier and your skin a lot whiter.

But the cold will also make you want to cuddle more.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Something I should find disgusting, but I'm actually intrigued...

Yesterday, my husband was unclogging our drains. The bathtub and one of the sinks in the master bathroom were clogged. BAD. There as water sitting in sink for at least half the day on Saturday. The drain was open, but nothing was going down. I think the only way that water actually got out of our sink was by evaporating.

Clogged sinks and tubs are gross. But everyone needs to deal with it at some point.

My husband probably spent over an hour working on our drains using that spider tool or whatever it's called. A logical person would keep their distance from our bathroom as all the old gunk and hair and soap residue and grime made its way back up the pipes.

But not I.

I find that nasty stuff intriguing. I had this yearning to know how much stuff he was collecting.

The coolest part was when he was fixing our sink drain. We found treasure! Dave found a metal piece and he called me to come and look. I put on my archeoligist hat and determined it looked like the metal from a pendant. A long-lost pendant that was now decayed and gunk-covered. It was like buried treasure, pulled from the depths of the ocean. This thing wasn't even mine. It must have come from the stripper that lived in our house before us.

And then he pulled up another piece. The jewel that once sat upon the pendent.

And then he pulled up the chain that went along with it.
My very own Heart of the Ocean. IF only it were valuable.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Flashback Friday -- Gracie's homecoming

Like a lot of high school students, I got my senior photos taken the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. While at the photographer's studio, I noticed he had a tub of kittens. Gray ones. Tans ones. White ones. I asked him if I could incorporate the kittens into one of my poses. They were so cute! He laughed, but obliged. He offered me a kitten to take home, but since I was going to school in Washington, I wouldn't really be able to take care of one.

Fast forward three years. I must have made an impact on the guy. I accompanied my little sister to the same studio to assist her with her photos. She wanted moral support.

The photographer immediately remembered me as the girl who wanted the kittens in her pictures. He said that if I had known you two were sisters, I would have brought more kittens. He lived on a farm, so he had cats in his barn and there were kittens born every summer.

He offered us kittens again. But this time, I had moved home for the rest of college and was going to be living with my sister. After talking with her (I think I talked to her about it...I'm not quite sure...haha), I called the photographer and told her I'd take one.

So I drove out to his farm and picked out the little gray kitten with green eyes. My own little girl. 

Read my previous Flashback Friday posts: Dave's homecoming | Otis' homecoming | The beginning of us | Our first Valentine's Day


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The perfect sandwich

I'm not talking about peanut butter and jelly. I'm not talking about a grilled cheese or a ham.

I'm talking about an Otis Sandwich.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I can't turn a pumpkin into a carriage, but...

I have been asked...

And I've accepted the invitation...

I'm going to be a Godmother! I'm going to have a Godson!

It is an honor to be asked to forever be a special part of someone's life. It's an honor to be asked to help nurture one's faith. I'm deeply touched to be given this opportunity.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beginnings and Ends

For some reason on Valentine's Day, I was thinking of beginning and ends. It just seemed like several of my friends were dealing with ends. But I was also seeing friends face new beginnings. One friend saw a relationship come to an end. Another friend had a first date. One friend was laid off from a job, but I was a reference for another friend who is probably close to getting a new job.

All this thinking about beginning and ends led me to start thinking about more significant beginnings and ends -- birth and death. First, I was thinking about birth -- pretty much the beginning of life. It was Valentine's Day, so I was thinking about what a joyous and love-filled day it was and how somewhere, someone was being born that day. Then I thought about the reciprocal of birth -- death. With my experiences of death, it is also a love-filled experience. Knowing that you won't be able to see someone's smile, you won't be able to have conversation with that person and you won't be able to hug that person anymore, and feeling the ache in your heart -- it's love that is making your heart ache. Albeit a much more painful love to feel than the love you feel when someone special is born and brought into your life. But through it all -- through the beginnings and end, through the ups and downs -- love is constant.

Little did I know that 15 minutes later I would be getting a phone call from my mom about death.

A boy from my church was in a snowboarding accident that morning. He hit a tree and died. Just like that. He was 21. He was always so full of life, always sharing his bright smile. He had amazing musical talents. He was authentic. He was wise beyond his years. He was healthy. He was definitely not someone who should have been dying that day. His death was shocking. It was tragic. (The local news did a story about him the other night. I thought it was nicely done, so here it is.)

It's one of those things that is really difficult to process.

My heart is aching for his family. After I heard the news, we drove up to my sister's house to take my nieces ice skating. I was feeling guilty for doing something fun when something so tragic had happened. But then I thought that he would not want me to not enjoy the company of my nieces. So instead, I did what I knew how to do. I gave my nieces extra hugs. I pulled my niece around the ice extra long because it's what she wanted (although she wasn't very happy with me when we went inside and I'd only hold one of her hands). I enjoyed the company of my husband as we finished making our Valentine's Day dinner together. I gave my puppies beef sticks. I loved.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Great Transition

One thing I worry about bringing home a baby (when it someday happens), is how the dogs will react. Because right now, the dogs are our babies. When a real baby comes home, suddenly the dogs won't be our babies anymore. We'll definitely still love them, but we obviously won't be able to give them as much attention as we do now.

I think Cooper will be a good brother. He'll be protective -- probably overly so. He'll be curious about the little babe.

Otis. He'll have a hard time. He was our first puppy. We spoiled him. We gave him lots and lots of attention. We let him cuddle with us whenever he wanted (meaning: all the time). He's the captain of our house. He still wants (and usually receives) the most attention and cuddling time with us. I don't know how he'll react when he can't get what he wants all the time.

Case in point: Last weekend, Andee and Bryan and their precious little baby, Lucas, came over to our house to watch the Super Bowl. Otis liked Lucas. He was really curious. He wanted to smell the little guy. But what did he do when I held Lucas?

Sat next to me and started giving his super high-pitched Don't-you-dare-give-others-more-attention-than you-give-me-bark.

So I sat there with one arm holding Lucas and the other hand petting Otis. I really didn't want Otis to keep barking like that when we had company -- he gets just a little annoying. Dave would distract him by playing ball, but the Otis would come back to me and start barking again.

Otis survived the transition of getting a second dog in our house. I know he'd survive a transition with a baby too. But it might be rough. It will most likely be known in our house as The Great Transition.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday -- Our first Valentine's Day

Warning to Dave: You might not like this story. You know it's true, but I also know you don't like to be reminded of this particular day in our lives. I'm so thankful that you stayed persistent until I said yes. Thank you for not letting me make this mistake.


The first Valentine's Day that Dave and I knew each other was in 2003. We had known each other for a couple of months. We'd met only twice, since he was stationed at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and I was living here in Minnesota. But in those last couple of months, we'd gotten to know each other really well. We talked every day on the phone -- often late into the night. I was getting the vibe that he liked me. I liked him too. A lot. Valentine's Day was just a couple of weeks before he deployed to Iraq. His unit was really busy getting ready for their first deployment, so we hadn't been talking quite as much -- still a couple of times a day though. haha. If I remember correctly, his deployment could have happened at any time, so he wasn't allowed to be more than an hour away from Ft Campbell. I knew he wouldn't be surprising me with a visit.

I was actually a little nervous about the vibe I was getting from Dave leading up to Valentine's Day. I liked him too, but I didn't think we'd be able to do anything about those feelings. He was in Kentucky. I was in Minnesota. My personal opinion at the time was that I didn't think long distance relationships made any sense. What was the point of being with someone if you couldn't be physical with that person? I have no idea why I had that opinion -- it really wasn't like I ever really had any options to date people that lived close to me. I really wasn't an expert on relationships, since I never really had any, but for some reason I was anti-long distance. And I told that to Dave a time or two.

But still, Dave's vibe was getting me nervous. Along came Valentine's Day. I went about my typical day. In the afternoon, I got a call from a flower shop. They had tried to deliver some flowers but I wasn't home.

I had a pretty good idea who they were from. I wanted my flowers, so I drove to the shop to get them.

I had an idea who they were from. But I waited until I got home to open them up.

They were the most beautiful red roses I had ever seen in my life. Absolutely gorgeous.

And there it was. The Card. I was giddy, excited, nervous, anxious and scared as I opened the card.

"Would you be my girlfriend? Love, Dave"

Oh, crap, I thought. This is not good. I really didn't want anything to change between Dave and I. I liked that he liked me. I liked liking him. I like flirting with him on the phone. I was too scared to take things to the next step. I knew I wouldn't see him for a year, so I didn't want to lock myself down into a relationship. I was only 20 years old, I wasn't ready for the level of seriousness that our relationship would ultimately have because he would be deployed. But I didn't want to lose him. I wanted to kiss him before I agreed to be his girlfriend. I had never had a Valentine before. I wanted a Valentine, but why did it have to be under these complicated circumstances.

So what did I do?

I avoided Dave. I continued going about my day. I went to the grocery store to get a couple of roses to bring to my other single lady friends with whom I was celebrating the holiday. I got back into my car and my cell phone rang.

It was Dave.

I didn't answer.

He left me a voice mail.

I listened to the voice mail. He was singing, "Would you be my girlfriend" -- the *nsync song that I loved.

Crap. He's still asking me.

Valentine's Day. A day about love. An offer of love, complete with a love song and roses, was being given to me. I was scared and terrified. I felt like cupid had shot his arrow. His arrow hit me -- wounded me -- and I was bleeding. Dying. This was not how I dreamed of falling in love.

I knew I needed to call him. I couldn't ignore him forever. But first, I called a friend. Or two. I was freaking out and needed to make sure I was doing the right thing.

I called him back.

I said, "I'm sorry. I can't."

I explained all of my excuses. I don't remembering him saying too much, but I know he said we would still be friends.

I told that I needed to wait until he came back from Iraq. I said that if we're meant to be together, it will work out. I pleaded. He agreed to my conditions. I felt like he was okay with what I thought I wanted. 

Before he got off the phone, he asked me if I liked the bear.

I hadn't gotten any bear. They messed up my order. So the bear was delivered the next day. There was a card attached to the bear.

"Would you be my girlfriend? Love, Dave"

This was the third time he asked. I still couldn't do it. I teased Dave that he needed to stop asking. I'm sure it hurt his heart more than it hurt mine. But I stayed stubborn. Two weeks later he left for Iraq and we said good-bye.

I'm still sorry for 02-14-03.

But our story obviously didn't end there. It pretty much continues from this post, so keep reading to find out what happened. (It gets happier -- I promise).

Read my previous Flashback Friday posts: Dave's homecoming | Otis' homecoming | The beginning of us


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just wanna blog

Today is one of those days...I don't really know what to say...but I just want to blog.

My husband had a nice status on Facebook today.

When for if only a moment the stresses of school, work, life etc melt away for a second aand you realize that all of this hard work is so I can be "happy"...and there it is right in front of me, I am happy. Life is good. I hope all my friends can have this moment for themselves.

There's something about reading my husband say he is happy and life is good to everyone that made me smile. I guess it's good he is happy with our life. I am too. But it's nice to hear him say it. 

I admit that I much too often let the stresses in life get to me. I shouldn't. I try not to. But it happens.

But here's to a conscientious moment to realize everything is all right. Dave is right. Life is good.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today's schedule

5:15 a.m -- Wake up
6:30 a.m. -- Arrive at work
5:00 p.m. -- Leave work
6:00 p.m. -- School
9:00 p.m. -- Leave school
9:30 p.m. -- Get home. Put on my pink pants. Get a glass of wine. Join the family on the couch.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It takes 21 days to make a habit

I'm three weeks in to my half-marathon training program. 21 days.

Three weeks ago, I could barely run a mile.

Last night, I ran four. Four miles!

I feel like I'm making progress, but then remind myself. Four miles is less than 1/3 of a half-marthon...

Thank goodness I still have 12 more weeks to train.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Flashback Friday -- Going way back. To the beginning.

The beginning of Dave and I that is. People often ask how I met Dave. After all, I am from the Twin Cities. He is from Duluth. He lived in Kentucky when I met him. His immediate family lives in North Carolina.

Well, we actually owe our meeting to one of my oldest friends, Heather. She lived just a couple houses away from me growing up. She ended up going to college in Duluth, while I moved out to Washington state for school. After two years, I moved home and Heather moved back to the cities too. We reconnected and started hanging out all the time. While she was in Duluth, she met Dave. Then Dave joined the Army and moved to Kentucky. One weekend in late October/early November 2002, Dave went home to visit his parents in Duluth. When he was driving back to Kentucky, he decided to visit Heather's house. On that Saturday night, that's exactly where I was -- at Heather's house.

Heather, her roommate and I had plans to go to Stargate, a local dance club. I was upstairs in Heather's bedroom talking to another friend, Megan, trying to convince her to join us when Dave arrived. I remember hearing him walk up the stairs to find Heather and I as I tell Megan that she better join us because Hot Dave is here. Funny thing is...I hadn't even seem him yet.

Then he walked in the room and we met. I remember thinking...yeah, he actually is pretty good looking. If Megan ended up joining us, Dave could totally pass off as Hot Dave. He was tall with broad shoulders. Beautiful blue eyes. Wore a Northwest Airlines t-shirt (a shirt I'll never let him get rid of. It's a collectors item now) and a Corona hat. But after I met Dave, I was no longer all that interested in Megan joining us. Quickly, I got off the phone with her, so I could get to know Dave better.

Here's what I knew about Dave before I met him: He was from Duluth. He was in the Army. He was home on leave and driving back to Kentucky. He was supposed to drive down to Rochester to visit his grandma, but was stopping by to say hi to Heather and might not go to Rochester as he originally planned.

My dad had been in the Army too. I was pretty sure my dad had been stationed in Kentucky as well. So that's what I first talked to Dave about. He was pretty quick to show me his dog tags. But as I talked to him, I quickly become surprised at how easy it was to talk to him. Generally, I'm pretty shy around people when I first meet them. But there was something comforting about Dave's demeanor where I felt I could talk to him. I felt like he was an old friend.

Soon it was decided that Dave would not be leaving to visit his grandma. Instead, he would be joining us three girls to go to the dance club.

We had a good time a Stargate. I loved that Dave was there and the fact that he was giving me attention. (Especially because there was a boy there that I had dated a couple of times that I wanted to make jealous...minor detail). I remember dancing with him to Justin Timberlake. I swear we danced to "Let's Get Married" by Jagged Edge or a similar song with a similar message -- but I'm probably making that up.

We left the club late. But the night was not over yet. We went back to Heather's house and watched a movie. I remember clearly at one point Dave was comparing our hands and pointing out that the lines are almost identical (I was skeptical and figured he probably used that line on every girl. Don't everyone's palms look similar?). He gave me a back rub too. I remember that vividly, because I was thinking, "Yes! A guy that likes to give back rubs." (But it ended up that wasn't really the case. It's all good, though. I still love Dave!)

Heather and I left for a while to go to a house of a friend of hers. (It's funny that I used to be able to stay up so late back then. I'm definitely not the same girl!) Dave stayed back at Heather's to sleep for a couple of hours before he got up really early to drive back to Kentucky.

I remember him waking me up when he left, asking to exchange numbers. Half asleep, I gave him my number and then he gave me mine. I couldn't remember his name, so I just put in some letters so that I could save the number. I figured I would figure it out later. All that matter was that I saved this boy's number, because I enjoyed my time and liked talking with him.

That was it. He was gone and it would be over a month until I saw him again. I'd only see him once more before he deployed to Iraq.

I had to wake up fairly early to go to work. I called him as I drove just to see how his drive was going. Thank goodness I remembered his name when I woke up! But I never changed his name in my phone. It was always Jab (ironically my initials now).

The best part of the day after I met Dave was that I had a message from him when I left work. I was so pretty pumped that this guy decided to call me.

And that is the story of how we met.

Read my previous Flashback Friday posts: Dave's homecoming | Otis' homecoming


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear

A friend of mine on Facebook announced that she is expecting a baby this summer. A little boy. She's one of those friends from high school -- that I haven't really spoke to since graduation. We became "friends" on Facebook, but we don't interact with each other very often. She was a girl I always liked. Spmeone I always kinda wished I took more time to get to know better. She was nice to everyone. She was friends with a lot of the boys. She was pretty, but not stuck up like some of the other girls at the all-girls private high school I attended.

Anyway, her status caught my attention. A baby boy. In June. I wrote my typical "That's really exciting! Congrats!" message. But that may or may not have been exactly what I was feeling inside. I hadn't checked out her profile and wondering if this was the first time she mentioned her pregnancy. Curiosity caught me. Especially when I noticed that she had a blog that was something about a baby.

So I decided to check it out.

I kinda felt like I was snooping. Reading up on this old friend. But hey, she put the link to her blog out there, right?

But I learned something about her. She and her husband didn't get pregnant right away. It tooks six months. And through her words, I could feel her worries and fears. Many the same of my own.

It just reminded me that just because someone posts that they're pregnant doesn't mean that it was an easy journey for them to get there. With anouncements on Facebook about expectant families coming onto my news feed almost everyday, it's easy to forget.

After this miscarriage, it seemed like I walked around going through the motion of life. Outwardly, I appeared normal, but people couldn't really see the pain I felt within. It made me realize that you never know what difficulties people are facing or what they're really dealing with at home or what thoughts are running through their mind.

Life is more complicated than what appears on the surface.

Not just for me. For everyone.

While I get caught up with my own hopes and worries about pregnancy, and while I let myself get a tiny-bit jealous a little too easily, I've forgotten to remember what I learned after the miscarriage. I don't know others' complete stories. I just have a fraction of it. And, most likely, that story is just a little more complicated than it appears on the surface.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentine's Day

As you know, Valentine's Day is coming up soon!

At lunch with one of my sisters and two of my nieces over the weekend, the subject of Valentine's Day was brought up.

"Mom, are we having the family over for a Valentine's Day dinner?" Emily asked.

I love the thought process of my niece. In her eyes, Valentine's Day is just like any other major holiday -- Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, 4th of July. It should require a family dinner.