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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Case Of The Mondays

...and yes, I'm fully aware today was Tuesday. Regardless, it stunk like a bad Monday.

Little Miss has a double ear infection and conjunctivitis. Although she doesn't feel entirely sick, she certainly looks it. Monday hubs and I played tag-team-parenting as he stayed home with her in the morning (and took her in to the doc) and I stayed home with her in the afternoon. It was an uneventful Monday as far as my part was concerned, and I even got to nap during her nap.

Today, however. Oh my. Today I am 11 weeks pregnant. That translates to, "Today I am a hormonal, raging lunatic." I slept through the entire night, which means I missed waking up to pee, which means I was a hurting unit by the time my alarm went off. I got up and got ready for work while hubs helped me get sickie poo ready for the sitter. Everything was fine and dandy...until I got to work.

I made myself oatmeal, like I have a bazillion times before. This time, however, some of it decided to clump together and not absorb any water. I took a bite, inhaled dry oats and maple flavor powder, and started to choke nearly to death. I'm not sure why we as humans try to cough so graciously and not make it look like it's a big deal, even though we are getting no air to our lungs, and are panicking as our life flashes before our very eyes. My eyes were watering, my face was red/blue/purple, and I could not catch a clear breath for anything. God decided to spare me today, and I finally got settled down, and was able to wash my throat clear of any deadly oatmeal residue. I may be the only person in the world to have choked on her instant oatmeal, but if I save a life by stating it's possible, then by golly, you're welcome. In all of the coughing and gagging commotion, however, I did something very bad and very painful to my lower back. It's nearly 12 hours later and I'm still wincing in pain every time I have to stand, sit, walk, or move in general. Guess I should call the chiropractor...

I took a morning trip to the restroom. TMI? Maybe, but it's part of my awful day. I went to the third stall - because the last time I used the first stall, a freak-o purposefully peeked in the gap between the stall and the wall to see who was in there. Hope she liked what she saw! So from now on, I use the 3rd stall if it's available, because you can't peek in to that one. Today, someone came in while I was occupying S3. No big deal. However, they tried the door. Apparently the fact that it was closed didn't register to them. Once she found it locked, she went to the first stall to take care of business. However, once she finished, she came BACK to S3, starting rattling the door, and trying to pull it open, as I'm shrieking, "I'M IN HERE!" She hears me and replies, "Oh, I thought it had locked itself, and I was about ready to crawl underneath to unlock it. Sorry to bother you!"

Are. You. KIDDING?! Why is your first thought upon entering a bathroom, that a closed door has locked itself, and not that someone might be in there? I'm sorry I pee so quietly!! I will be sure to make quite the ruckus from here on out! Un-beeee-lievable. Unbelievable. Buncha crazy bathroom freak-o's.

That rattled me, on top of nearly dying at my desk moments before. I started working on a project for my boss that had me arguing with him twice, apologizing to him for arguing, apologizing for realizing I had been doing something wrong for a while in creating a report for him, and crying three times. At one point I said, "I need you to get out of my office!"
"No, I'm not leaving until we figure this out."
"Then I'm going to sit here and cry until you do."

He's been through this pregnancy thing with me before. God bless him, I'm not sure why I still have a job.

I literally worked up a sweat today trying to get the project finished for him - and not only finished, but done well and done right - before his meeting this afternoon. I made it with about 15 seconds to spare and said, "I hope I've redeemed myself." He graciously replied, "Of course you have."

I'm sure he was just grateful I didn't start crying. Again.

When I left work,(it was a cloudy, windy, drizzly, cold day today) I hit the button on my remote to unlock my vehicle, when the sliding passenger door started to open. I must have been button happy. I got in and it took three times before the door would finally close. We have always had problems with that door and of course that's the one I had to accidentally open. Not a big deal, but it wasn't so "cool" to freeze my tush off in the vehicle while trying to get a possessed door to stay closed, after having choked, hurt my back, and been the victim of yet another bathroom idiot.

Now that I'm typing all of this out, it doesn't seem like it was the worst day ever, but I assure you as I was experiencing it, it was tumultuous. I can only hope that the hormones decide to take a little break after being so very active today. And that my back fixes itself magically in my sleep. Goodness knows I owe the chiropractor the next three month's wages already.

Here's to Wednesday. Cheers.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Girls Night

The weather has been nothing short of perfect this summer. Today was no exception: hot, but just the right amount of humidity, and the slightest hint of a breeze. Brent and I had planned to go to the Redhawks game together tonight, but long story short, I ended up spending some quality time with our peanut while he went with his man crush friend. (We love you, Charlie.) As much as I would have loved to snuggle under the sky with my hubs, tonight ended up being an enjoyable and memorable night for just us girls.

After I got home from work, Haley and I had a little snack of cereal before snuggling on the sofa to read a book. We tried skyping with my family, but no one seemed to be available. After having tickle wars, a dance-off, and a game of tag around the living room, (and after some dinner so mommy could catch her breath) she asked if we could go for a walk.

It's no secret I have the cutest daughter in the universe. I'm not being biased either, just stating the facts. On tonight's walk, she was earning that passage for sure.

"Mommy! A baby bird!"
"Oh he is tiny, isn't he? But he's just a little bird, not really a baby bird."
"Excuse me bird! I have a question!"
"You have a question for the bird?"
"Yeah. Excuse me bird! I have a question!"
"What's your question for the bird?"
"Ummmm....we go driving in the van."
"Oh. That's your question?"
"Oh no! He fly away, mommy! In the sky!"

Seriously. So cute.

"Can we cross the street?"
"We have to look both way for cars, remember? Do you see any cars coming?"
"There are no cars, mommy."
"Well then why did you....okay. Let's cross the street."
"Okay! Yay! Let's be careful!"

We meandered back to the house where we sat outside in the shade and played with rocks for a little bit, until I eyed some mosquitoes looking for their dinner. We came inside, changed her in to her pj's, read more books, sang some songs, gave hugs and kisses, and said bedtime prayers.

"Yes, baby?"
"I need to listen."
"That's right. We asked Jesus to help you be a good listener, didn't we?"
"Yah, and I LISTEN!"

If she doesn't just melt this mommy's heart...

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The summers in Fargo make the winters here almost worth it. The temperatures are warm and cozy - like a comfortable hug from a lifelong friend. The sun, the breeze, and the shade mostly work together to form an ambiance of pure pleasantry. The inside of my home is somewhat neglected, as I relish to spend every available moment outside. My camp chair has conformed itself to the curves of my duff, and we sit together to enjoy the day's beauty and contentment.

The breeze is my favorite summertime friend. It blows just enough to keep the flying critters away (read: man-eating dragonflies and other terrorizing winged insects), and just enough to keep the heat in check. If I had the leisure to sit outside in the summer all day every day, it would be an opportunity I would certainly take advantage of. Watching a rainstorm from the shelter of the garage would be no hindrance.

Haley, now a very active toddler, loves to play outside with sticks, rocks, and most affectionately with the dirt. She and I marvel at the birds, dance away from bugs, and together sit and wonder about the clouds as they pass overhead. "Blue and white, mommy! The sky blue and white!" I think the clouds are just as happy to be floating above us as we are to watch them. My little nature loving toddler is a girl after my own heart.

There are no mountains, and there are no pristine blue bodies of water nearby, but the atmosphere of the outdoors is appreciated regardless. Freedom to run, jump, roll, or simply sit. I'll take it. No boundaries at all - just acres and acres of outdoors.

As the leaves rustle and applaud for how happy they are to have our company, I sometimes just close my eyes and say quick little prayers of thanks. Thanks for His creation, and taking time to plan out the smallest of details. Thanks for all the senses to be able to enjoy it. And thanks for the opportunity to experience it, even if only for a season.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why I Love Saturdays

We've been guilty of using the weekend to try to cram everything we "need" to get done into two days' time, wear ourselves ragged, and wonder on Sunday evenings where our weekend went. We still have a long to-do list, but rather than try to become super-humans and accomplish more in 48 hours than anybody else, we've taken a step back.

Saturdays are my absolute favorite day of the week. It starts by Brent and I being woken up by the sweet mumbles over the monitor from Haley. Usually it's, "I want mommy." which I'm happy, though tired, to oblige. When I take her out of her crib, she almost immediately starts her demands for breakfast, though I try to sneak a few more snuggles. She and I make our way to the kitchen, I start brewing my coffee, and get her situated with her "yoyurt". We end up eating some breakfast together, and I start to savor my first coffee for the day.

She'll entertain herself with her toys while Brent gets a while longer to snooze, and she and I will tell funny stories or build or color. Usually I sip my coffee and she makes me something "delisish" in her own kitchen that I have to sample. When Brent gets up, we watch an episode or two of Dinosaur Train, which is somehow her most favorite thing to watch. What am I doing in a Pteranodon nest?

We'll play outside, tidy the house, have lunch, and then it's nap time. I, for some reason, am never tired the same time she naps. So I use this time to do what I want to do. When she's awake and refreshed, we play some more, and then 5:00 comes. Today we spent all afternoon outside working on pulling weeds and trimming shrubbery. She wore Mommy's gloves and played in the dirt, so had to have an emergency bath time upon reentry of the house.

Every Saturday at 5:00 we turn on the radio and listen to Prairie Home Companion. It's on while I cook us dinner, and we listen to it until it ends. It really is entertaining, and if you've never done it, I would certainly recommend you start. Once it's over, we start to wind down, get Haley into her PJs, brush her teeth, say bedtime prayers, and sing some songs together. Lately, her most favorite song in the entire world is Happy Birthday. So we sing that multiple times.

Once she's tucked in, we come out and do whatever else we need to do to wrap up our day so we can spend the evening anyway we want to. We might clean out the basement, or I might knit, or we might play some two-handed pinochle. It doesn't matter, I love this tradition. I love Saturdays. I love my morning snuggles, my evening singalongs, and everything in between. If my week has to end, I want to enjoy how it comes to a close. I love Saturdays.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I told my sister this story the other night - it was one I had forgotten about quite honestly. I have often told stories about lessons in humility and this one is no different. Ignorance is bliss until you do something silly as a result. This is one of those silly times.

My first "real" job was as a sales associate at Corral West Ranchwear. I can't say "Corral West Ranchwear" without hearing the radio commercial in my head, where they sing the store name, crack a whip, and shout, "Yaw!". The store closed at 9:00 p.m. which required me to drop off the night deposit at the bank. Of course, banks aren't open at 9:00 p.m., so you have to use the night drop. I was fresh out of high school and my arrogance would have told you I knew it all. My actions, however, proved otherwise.

I will tell you I had never used the night drop before. I paid cash for everything and was always visiting my credit union during the hours of operation. I didn't own a debit card until my husband forced me to get one after we were married. I didn't even own checks until I moved out and had to pay rent. I paid for everything with cash. I also didn't work a full time job, which allowed me the liberty to withdraw cash from my account during daylight hours. Always.

The first time I ever dropped off the night deposit, I had to make a second lap around the bank before I even found the night drop. I remember thinking, "Oh THAT'S what that metal thing is!" I gently pried the door open before I saw my first challenge - getting the deposit bag to fit between those giant metal grates of the drop drawer.

You're seeing where this is going.

I barely opened the night drop drawer, positioned the bag just so the metal lock would wedge between the metal grates, and worked that drawer open and closed until the bag finally worked its way back and I heard it drop into the collection pit of deposits. It was a chore, a work out, and I started only depositing envelopes when we had large deposits because I knew there was no way all the cash would fit at once in those bulky deposit bags.

I did this every night for several weeks.

One night I was doing the deposit and I accidentally opened the door further than I ever had before. There before me was a genius concept. An actual compartment for deposit bags! The metal grates were a safety feature to guard against robberies, and here I was thinking they were some teeth-feeding mechanism to get the deposits inside. Heaven help me, NO ONE TOLD ME THIS! I was so relieved to have found an easier and more practical way to do the deposit. The right way. Who knew?!

I then developed the habit of making the deposit, and opening the drawer a second time to make sure it had dropped so no one would be able to reach into the compartment and take it out. One night shortly after this new-found ritual, I was pulling out of the parking lot when I was suddenly surrounded by three cop cars.

Three. Cop cars. Police. Surrounding me.

One officer approached me, flashlight in hand, shining it directly into my eyeballs. He moved it down to see my name tag (emblazoned with "Corral West Ranchwear")and asked me what my name was. In case I was a hard-core criminal who was only pretending to work at a western clothing store.

"What are you doing here, Val?"
"I just dropped off our deposit from work."
"What work?"
"Corral West...I just...the top of the hill...I wasn' something wrong?"
"Yes. The bank alarm was tripped."

My first thought was, "OH MY GAWSH, someone was trying to rob the bank while I was making my deposit!!" I was alarmed to say the least (pun intended). Scared out of my mind. I remember sitting in the driver's seat and looking around expecting to see a would-be robber lurking in the bushes.

I had to wait for him to confer with the other officers before he would move his car and let me continue my very humble journey home. I was cleared. I wasn't going to jail. I didn't even have to bribe him with a discount on Wranglers.

Then I realized, and I'm shamed to admit it was hours later, when I opened the deposit drop door the second time I REALLY opened it, with all my might to make sure it was really empty. Then I let it slam shut. It was me. I had tripped the alarm. There was never a robber. Only a naive 18 year old who didn't know how to work a drawer. A drawer, people.

Thankfully I work at a bank now, so if I need to make a deposit or withdrawal, I can do it all during hours of operation. Like it should be done. No metal alarm traps necessary.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Power of Veggie Might!

I'm laid up with some sort of viral bug - fever, body aches, etc. So what better way to spend my time when I should be sleeping, than blog about cooking? Right?

Fair warning - if any of you have known me for any considerable amount of time, as you continue reading this you may suspect I've been abducted, brainwashed, hippy-fied, etc. I grew up on Taco Bell, cheeseburgers and pizza, and (unfortunately) to this day I greatly love all three of those food groups..... Rest assured I am still the same ol' Val, just trying to add a few extra months to my lease on life. C'mon man, everybody's doin it....

I've been feeling like a bad mom lately (again?) because I tend to repeat Li'l Peanut's lunch every single day. I know she likes it, and I want to make life easy for the sitter, so I go with the routine meal whenever I can. Occasionally I'll slip some new and exciting foods in there, but more often than not I hear about how she wouldn't go near it. So I make her the same sandwich, the same hard boiled egg, and the same snacks and fruit every day.

It's hard to get veggies in the mix (though we have been successful) so I've been trying to be creative with how to get us all to eat veggies for dinner. I am more than okay with just having a hunk of cooked meat on a plate, no sides, for dinner. That's not typically the best plan, however, so I've been trying to be creative. I don't like a lot of vegetables myself, which is frustrating, because they all look so good but something happens when they cross my tastebuds... If you're one of those people who eats raw veggies and claims they taste great - shush. I would love to be you, but I'm not, so just shush.

However! I've been taking the vegetables I can tolerate and shredding them up, adding them to whatever ground meat I can. Chicken and veggie meatballs are one of Brent's and my favorites. Haley doesn't like them, though. Meatloaf made with shredded zucchini and carrots is actually really good. (And with oatmeal rather than crackers, and a few tsp of bbq sauce instead of ketchup - I'm telling you, meatloaf meets gourmet!) Burritos with shredded veggies. Pizza with veggies all over it. Whole grain pasta with shredded veggies and some mozzarella cheese. No sauce, just those three things. Or make spaghetti and add veggies to your meat sauce! These ideas are, in my humble picky opinion, better than plopping a spoonful of steamed blah on your plate. If you can mix them with everything you're eating, it's like a veggie fiesta, and you don't even realize it's going on!

Make homemade fries! Sweet potato fries! I have yet to find a way to make them without burning them, but if you figure it out, you're one step ahead of me. Make homemade veggie chips! A little olive oil and sea salt can go a long way for a veggie.

I've also found sauteeing vegetables in chicken broth instead of plain water is a great way to add flavor. It's also a wonderful idea to cook pasta in broth - then you can cut out any fatty sauces and enjoy the wholesome goodness of noodles, veggies, and drizzles of cheese.

More ideas:
asparagus in your scrambled eggs. Just do it.
cooked spinach in your pasta. Or your eggs. Or your ground meat.
mashed sweet potatoes in your pancake batter.
blend cucumbers or zucchinis into your guacamole. Or into the beans of your bean dip.

Most people put butter and pepper on their veggies and call them seasoned. How about drizzling olive oil and sprinkling Italian Seasoning? We put it on most all our veggies, and if we like how they taste - anyone else should too. After all, I am picky!

So there you have it. Creative ways to get veggies in your system. Your cheese grater just became your best friend - now get to shredding those veggies! And remember to buy organic - not because you're haughty, but because you want to live long enough to hear your kids thank you for the awesome vegetable options you make for them!