To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Neighborhood Watch

Brent and I were enjoying our fantastic dinner of grilled tri-tip, pinto beans, and rice. One of our favorites. Brent saw an SUV Police vehicle inching down our street and said, "Uh oh." I turned to look out the window to see what it was. It was moving really slowly. Brent said, "They're looking for somebody."

Shortly thereafter, a police car drove by at an even slower pace, with its lights on. Sure enough, they were looking for somebody. Brent saw a police officer take off running across the street into a neighbor's back yard. We stood at the window and I realized I had left the garage open while I was grilling. My hero of a husband went to make sure no one was hiding in our garage, and closed it up so they couldn't use it for a hiding place.

I saw the officer emerge from the backyard across the street and he had his taser gun drawn at his side. He was walking militantly, with a definite purpose. Two more cars drove by.

We locked our doors and sat and watched, wondering what - who - they could be looking for, and why. We heard the officer yell, "He has to be back in here, Carlos!"

Neighbors started emerging and standing in front of their houses - watching, waiting. We saw more police cars crawl by, and a few officers on foot. We went to our next door neighbor's house, and the neighbor on the other side of them informed us the police were looking for a shirtless man covered in tattoos, but the police wouldn't tell them why. I told Brent, "behind our garage is a good hiding place," and he agreed. "I'm going to go see if someone's back there," I said. "Are you nuts, Val?" Brent asked. I guess I was, because I started walking back there to check. He came alongside me - not because he wanted to, but because he was going to protect his crazy wife from the even crazier criminal in the unlikely event there was one there........the coast - or behind the garage, anyway - was clear.

Finally after about twenty or more minutes of police driving and/or walking by, we heard squealing tires, and saw the cop cars congregate around the corner from us. Apparently the shirtless tattooed man was apprehended and all is back to normal.

For our quiet, family oriented street, this was a really big deal!! If the most action we ever see on this street is what happened today, I'll be okay with that. It was a bit unsettling for a while!!

Happy Anniversary

Six years ago today I walked down the aisle and exchanged vows with Brent. I was sick as a dog with salmonella and strep throat. I was a mess. I don't remember much of the wedding ceremony itself other than when it was over, I remember thinking, "That's it?" I was so focused on the wedding - the details, the decorations, the people in their proper places. I was trying so hard just to make it through the day without getting sick in front of other people. I was just holding it together. I was so busy in all the preparation and commotion for the wedding, I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about the marriage.

The first few months were ridiculous. I had to learn to live with another person and accept he wouldn't do everything the way I wanted. I had to share my living space, my checkbook, and my remote control. Our checkbook register from the first few months of our marriage still has the tear stains in it from me fretting over our finances. We argued over the dumbest things. Some of the biggest fights we had were over things that were so trivial. I remember thinking, "What did I get myself in to?"

Marriage isn't a ceremony followed by a dance with food, champagne, all while wearing a big poofy dress. It's not happily ever after. When the pastor pronounced Brent and me "man and wife" he didn't follow up by saying, "let the fairytale begin."

Marriage is hard work. We've had our struggles, and we will continue to do so. For the last six years I have done my share of fighting, sleeping on the sofa, shedding tears, apologizing, and throwing sucker punches (metaphorically speaking of course).

I will say this, though. Six years ago today my husband and I made a commitment to love each other in good times and in bad. In sickness and in health. For richer for poorer. We've had good times. We've had bad. I used to get sick a lot! Brent's been sick a few times. We've both enjoyed good health. We've been poor. We're waiting for the richer part... I am crazy about my husband - even though sometimes he drives me crazy. He is my hero, my handyman, my knight in shining armor.

Sometimes I've questioned why we're still together. Mostly, though, I thank God that His plans and provisions are bigger than my understanding. He knew who He had called Brent to be. He knew the husband I would need. He knew that whenever Brent looked at me with those big blue eyes, I would turn to a puddle of goo.

As we were winding down five years of marriage, we were in serious uncharted territory. Things weren't great. In all honesty, things were pretty shaky. We really started working together and praying together. I can say that heading in to six years, things have turned around. We don't have a perfect marriage, but we have an honest one. We have a marriage we're continually building on the foundation of God and His promises.

Honey - my groom of the last six years - I am so proud of you. You are such a great man, and you are so worth all the tears, the smiles, and everything in between. You inspire me to be a better wife, and a better woman. What a blessing you've been. You encourage me to seek the light in every dark situation. You encourage my faith and my following of Christ. You have my utmost respect. You are my hero. I love you, Brent. Happy Anniversary.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Going Batty

Yesterday morning I walked in to work and said hello to Jess, my coworker. His response was, "Did you see our little friend?"

"Our little friend?"

"I figured you didn't, else I would have heard a scream."

"Is there a mouse outside?!"

"No, a bat."

"A BAT?!"

I went outside to look. Sure enough, directly above the door, was a furry, sleepy bat. I shuddered, quickly walked back inside, and went on about my day. I made the mistake of mentioning the bat's presence to a few other employees. I had to convince them that it wasn't going to harm them, and it should be left alone. My guess was it would fly away at night to feed and be on it's merry way.

This morning when I got to work, that was not the case. Bat-creature was still there. Let me tell you the bank employees were freaking out!! One said, "it looked black yesterday and gray today. Did it just hit the brick wall and die and now it's starting to mold?" Another told her boss if someone didn't kill the bat, she was going to have to go home for the rest of the day because she was having anxiety attacks. (She's on the opposite side of the building, nowhere near the door or the bat....)

Late in the morning, I see two male employees (higher ups, mind you) march outside to "inspect" the bat. The next thing I know, there's a big discussion that went something like this: "You kill it." "No, you kill it." "No you." "Did anyone bring a badminton racquet to work?" "Where's the big shovel?"

I couldn't take it. I do not like anything that creeps, crawls, or is winged. Bats disgust me. However, this thing was outside and was just hanging out! It wasn't harming anything or anyone, and bats eat mosquitoes.

I asked for a really large cup. I excused myself to the break room and filled the cup with water. I walked outside and stood around waiting for the people in the parking lot to leave. I took one last look around and said, "Sorry little guy" before I threw the water on it. The bat squeaked, chatted it's teeth, and flew away.

I walked back inside the bank and told the men the bat was gone. One guy was really upset because he was convinced the bat had rabies and was going to come back. (And kill us all?) I'm sure he had a psychic-medium-veterinary degree that led him to that conclusion. Another woman was upset because she thought for sure the bat was going to land on her car. (Because cars are common roosting spots for bats?) I just had to shake my head.

I took some pictures of the bat before I doused it, and sent them to a professor at NDSU. Turns out it's a species that not a lot is known about - and isn't really seen in these parts. And my colleagues wanted to smash it with a giant snow shovel.

Enjoy the close-up of the "Silver-haired bat." I'm glad it's gone, glad it's alive - but mostly I'm glad I don't have to hear about how it's going to send people in to a sheer panic. I mean if scaredy-cat Val can be okay with it, when I'm the one that uses the door it was roosting above..... Can I just say I felt totally invincible today?! :o)

**No animals were harmed during the writing of this blog**

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Homeownership Is Overrated.

Seriously, if you don't believe me, buy me coffee (skinny vanilla latte, with a dab of whip cream) and ask me to tell you the story of becoming a homeowner. I have told Brent that our next house won't have any problems, and if it does, the landlord will take care of them.

Right now as I sit on my sofa and type, there is a kind young gentleman downstairs operating a jackhammer on my basement floor. The sound of it alone is enough to make my teeth hurt (for some reason it reminds me of a root canal I had November of 2000). He then is shoveling the sloppy wet concrete and rock into a bucket, hauling it upstairs, and dumping it into the lovely receptacle parked in our driveway. There is muddy water all around our basement. It makes me sick to my stomach to go downstairs and see the amount of work that's been done, and the amount of work we have yet to do. In case you're not aware - I'm not really a manual labor kind of girl. I will fish, hunt, camp, play tackle football, hike, irrigate farmland, and feed cattle, but I don't want to fix my basement. Or your basement. I might break a nail. Or a sweat. Or a limb.

All that to say I feel completely in over my head when I think about what's left to do in our basement. These pictures aren't pretty, but I feel the need to share my mess. So gaze with sympathy upon my sawed beams, water filled perimeter, concrete rubble, and demolished basement. If we're lucky we might have it pieced back together by the end of July....?

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the neighbor across the street backed in to my husband's car this morning? Nothing super bad, and no horrendous damage. Just another, "are you serious?" moment of the day. Is it July yet??

Thankfully I found some beauty in the midst of it all....right outside my front door.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Latest "Buzz"

I have an overwhelming fear. I cannot stand insects, bugs, spiders, critters with more than four legs, or wings, or bug eyes - yuck. Yuck, and again I say yuck. Something happens to me physically when I encounter one of these creatures. I become incredibly tense - especially in the shoulders - I make strange, guttural noises, and my eyes quadruple in size. I literally become scared stiff and I have a hard time moving, speaking, etc.

I recently made light of my sister's situation as we spoke on the phone a few days ago. She was chatting away, telling me about life in Oregon, when her voice dropped about four octaves, and she let out three throat noises that I couldn't spell out for you here if I tried. I heard my nephew start crying, then I heard her say, "I'm sorry Travis, Mommy freaked out about a fly and it scared you too, I'm sorry." A fly. I wish you could have heard her noises. Then you would laugh, for one, but you would understand the type of fear I'm talking about here. My sister apparently inherited the same trait. (But I don't know if I would freak out about a fly.)

I have really been enjoying our weather here in NoDak lately. High 60s, low 70s, lots of sunshine - just beautiful weather. I try to take long walks around the neighborhood each evening to take advantage of the temps and the sunshine. We get locked up for some pretty long winters, so it's hard to stay indoors these days! Tonight was no different for me. I trekked a long way around the neighborhood until I could hardly feel my legs anymore. I came home, was zapped of energy, and Extreme Pita sounded better than cooking.

Brent and I enjoyed some Philly Steak pitas with veggies and sauce, and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. (Can I get an "amen" for how tasty those are?!) We headed back home and caught up with our e-mail and twitter before it was time to get some housework done. Brent started organizing the office and I decided to tackle the bathroom. I don't understand how the smallest room in the house requires twice as much cleaning, three times as often. I digress....

I had scrubbed the toilet bowl and got down to my knees to wipe the base of the throne - which is apparently a magnet for dust and hair. Dis-gust-ing. I had to maneuver to really get back there, and my face was all but touching the toilet. That's when I saw it.

It was dark, hairy, winged, and struggling.

"OH MY GOODNESS. (throat noise, throat noise, cough)" That was my best attempt to communicate to my husband what I was really wanting to say which was, "Get in here and kill this thing immediately!" I don't remember how I got from my knees to my feet, and have no idea how it could have happened as quickly as it did.

Brent has been around me enough times to know my, "It's a bug!" cry. He sauntered in to the bathroom and said, "What is it?"

"I think it's a bee!" As I struggled to move my legs to walk myself out of the direct path of the thing, and get as far away as I could.

"Where is it?" He couldn't see it. I had to muster up enough strength to walk back inside the bathroom, extend my arm to point, and try to verbally communicate, "It's there on the bowl right at the base of the lid." Of course it came out, "There, (throat noise, throat noise) RIGHT THERE!"

"Oh yep, sure enough. It's a bee." (Squish) "And now it's dead." With that, he went back to the office to finish tidying up.

I, of course, began thinking, "Is there a hive in my wall? How did it get in? Are there more? Where did it come from? How did it end up on the toilet I JUST cleaned?" I stood trying to regain my cleaning composure. I resumed cleaning, but moved on to the shower. Everything that brushed against me, or that I thought I felt, made me gasp. Every time I felt something on me, I thought it was a bee. I will most likely have a hard time getting to sleep tonight. Brent has probably already forgotten he even killed a bee in the bathroom tonight.

Yuck. Yuck, and again I say, yuck.

Friday, May 1, 2009


It all started, many many years a little ball of some cells. We've come to call it an "egg". Where life begins.

(Yes, I know this isn't an ovarian egg, but this is a family blog, people!)

Then one day, there was a big explosion (or simply loud screaming, and 21 hours of gruesome, painful labor, while mother had toxemia and baby was sunny-side-up) and WHOOSH, there was life.

As time went on, the life form grew to be quite cute. Dashing, even. And quite possibly looked a lot like her paternal grandfather. As her skills advanced, she won the hearts of many.

Then there was another explosion ~ this time it was an explosion of hair. It was everywhere. Even when armed with the power of a nylon-bristled brush ~ the mass could not be contained or controlled. It was so out-of-control, people would find themselves stuck inside of it if they dared to venture too close.

A few years later, the life form's mother learned the value of barrettes, pony tail holders, and shirts bought at county fairs. (Was Stevie Wonder playing that night? I forget.)

Then came the day the life form admitted her one and only dream - to model. She carefully picked her coordinated outfits and practiced her signature poses, knowing one day her style would leave it's mark in this world. A mark it left, indeed.

After her modeling career took off, she was able to stay at home and care for her family. Mothering in her pajamas had become a way of life ~ a life she enjoyed every minute of. It was her gift of sight ~ with the help of glasses half the size of her face ~ that would take her places....if only she had a way to get there!

As the years went on, she was finally able to mobilize, taking advantage of the latest technology available in bicycle bells and horns. Because she invested so much time in bicycle accessories, personal care and maintenance was pushed aside. It was a sacrifice she had to make ~ for the sake of survival.

Riding around, she began to search for more purpose. Things were holding her back ~ so she changed it up. She got different colored (though still humongous) glasses. She chopped off 1/3 of her hair, though it looked like it was considerably shorter. People were her first love, though she made times for the smaller creatures, as she remembered what it was like trying to find an evolutionary niche.

Finally, thankfully, evolutionary survival allowed her to develop into a bright, well-maintained creature. A creature capable of having a great time, laughing heartily, and questioning why the parental units ever let her out of the house with her wild mane of hair and model outfits. And then take pictures. (Seriously, why?)