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.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I ate pizza, now I'm feeling insightful.

I've mentioned before how much I love Saturdays. Even though all three of us in the household are still battling cold/sick bugs, today was no exception. Haley was up early - for her, and for Saturday. Before 7:00. Brent brought her to bed with us where she declared she wanted to sing a song. We weren't going back to sleep in other words. After some morning snuggles, breakfast, and a long nap, we read even more books and Brent headed out for his social event - playing pool with a friend from church. I was starting to not be able to keep up with Haley's book demands. After about the 10th or 11th book, I suggested we order our favorite pizza and bake chocolate chip cookies. She thought those were fabulous ideas. (Who could argue, really, though?)

I've cooked and baked with Haley before, but this was our first cookies experience. Mostly she wanted to draw pictures in the flour that spilled on the counter and taste-test everything, even after I told her we wouldn't be tasting after the addition of the eggs. (I will let you know it is incredibly difficult to not eat cookie dough just because you're pregnant and not supposed to.) She wore the apron my sister made for her for Christmas and looked like a true domestic diva. A girl after my own heart. Once the first cookie sheet was in the oven, however, her interest waned and she left me to go explore more exciting adventures in her toy collection.

Prairie Home Companion is on the radio, Haley is "being awesome" (read: dancing to her keyboard music by kicking her legs in the air and flapping her arms) in the living room, the last of the dough is in the oven, and half a pizza is trying to find its way around the obstacle course in my belly named Cletus-the-she-fetus.

I do love Saturdays.

Now that I've documented for my own well-being how wonderful this day is, on to something else I wanted to blog about. Life lessons. You know I'm full of them....because I have some crazy experiences sometimes. So here goes.

1. Always let your children help in some fashion in the kitchen. Not only do I hope Haley (and her future sibling[s]) will learn the proper uses, functions, and techniques of various utensils and appliances, but it will make a bank full of memories she'll (they'll) be able to draw back on. Today's cookie baking is no exception. I remember making pancakes for the first time with my parents, and I burned my wrist on the skillet. I have lots of other memories, too, (mostly of trying to make stuff after doing it in home-ec class, because my Mom would rather sew an entire wardrobe than cook a meal), and I'll tell you this: the kitchen is an oasis for me. I'm comfortable in here, I make wonderful things in here, and now I can add a few recipes for "memories" to my collection. Haley will be comfortable in the kitchen without a doubt - whether or not she likes to cook or bake. Also, she does a heck of a job unloading the dishwasher.

2. Never expect out of a relationship what you're not willing to or already contributing yourself. I'm a little taller at the moment, because I'm standing on my soapbox. Here goes. The last couple of weeks, we've been battling illness, pregnancy hormones, and a brain-block that doesn't allow Brent or me to communicate effectively. This has resulted in tears, swear words (even if they never make it out audibly, thinking them counts as swearing), and lots of apologies.

How many times do we, as women especially, sit and fantasize about our prince charming? He'll do what we want, when we want, without us even having to ask, he'll be full of romantic surprises, he'll love us no matter what, he'll only want to spend his time cuddling with us at night instead of watching t.v. or playing a video game, he'll tell us every day how beautiful we are - blah blahbityblah blah. Isn't it wonderful? Absolutely. Isn't it realistic? Get over yourself. We know what men are fantasizing about, and I don't think it includes being nagged, being given an iron-load of responsibility, expected to be apologetic and forgiving without ever having the right or reason to be mad at their counterpart (us), and I can guarantee they aren't wishing they could just find a woman who expects them to do everything romantic possible for them and only getting a smile and a thank-you in return. Think about it. No, seriously - stop reading this right now, and think about it.

We are selfish beings. We want what's best for us, and who can blame us? After all, if we aren't happy with ourselves, how can we be happy with anyone else, right? And the only way for us to be happy with ourselves is if other people bend over backwards to make us feel that way. Makes sense....if you're a raging lunatic. (I can say that because I've been known to be one.)

If I expect Brent to do A, B, and C, yet I'm willing to only do....none of those in return...that is not a relationship. That is a relation-kayak. Room for only ONE. I can't expect him to float down the river of life with me for very long when I'm the only one with the paddle. (Plus I have tried canoeing before, and I royally suck with the whole oar-steering thing...) Relation-kayak is a silly sounding phrase, so who would want that anyway?

Relationship - ship - able to stay afloat and house enough love for many people, by providing multiple acts of service, being accommodating, and wanting nothing more than for those in the ship to truly enjoy their time there. With you. Because of you. If you want a partner to love and respect you more than any other person on the planet, you'd best be reciprocating. Scratch that - not reciprocating. You'd best be leading by example.

I want Brent to spoil me and take care of me, and be willing to forgive me when I royally screw up, and give me hugs and kisses just because. So guess what? I'm going to work at, and always be willing to, spoil him, take care of him, forgive him when he royally screws up, and give him hugs and kisses just because.

I want Haley to trust me, run to me, have fun with me, and sing silly songs at the top of her lungs while baking cookies. So guess what? I'M going to trust her, run to her, have fun with her, and sing silly songs at the top of my lungs while baking cookies.

Relation-SHIP. Not Relation-KAYAK.

Is this blowing your mind or what?! You're welcome.

3. Never talk on the phone in a public restroom. You know my history with weird things happening in public bathrooms. I'm just adding to the list. I personally don't want to be thinking the person you're talking to can hear me pee. Or flush. Please save the conversation for another area.

4. Always be willing to take an adventure. "It's too cold" is reason enough not to do something, especially if you're battling sickness, but I can tell you - memories are made in more places than just the kitchen. Don't pass up too many opportunities to take an adventure. Go sledding. Build a snowman. Have a snowball fight. (Yes, it's January here so these are the activities that are on the forefront of my mind.) Right now, Brent is putting Haley's coat on so they can quickly go outside and see the full moon. Nothing crazy - but fun (especially for her) nonetheless. Anything can be an adventure. Putting a blanket over the backs of two chairs and pretending to camp or be in a fort - are you kidding me?! DO IT! Even if you don't have a kid you're trying to create an amazing life for, don't ever pass up opportunities to make your own life more adventurous. And be safe about it, for Pete's sake, don't do anything stupid. Let's keep ourselves in check here.

5. Think of a way to bless someone else, and then do it. I don't care who it is, if they're in need or not necessarily, what you do, just bless someone else. Do it enough times to where it makes you feel absolutely giddy about it. We're a selfish enough race we're always thinking about what we need, what we want, and what we don't have. Take five minutes to think of how you can bless someone else, and you'll notice you spend less time worrying about your own needs, and more time being thankful for the things that make you tick. I'm always totally humbled when someone does something for me or for my family, and it always spurs me even more to give someone else the blessing of peace of mind - if only for a day, or a meal, or a chore.

There you have it. Why do I blog life lessons? 1) to show I actually learn something now and again, 2) because I need the reminders and 3) how awesome would it be if someone took even one simple truth away from what I've experienced?

Brent is home and Haley is active, so I'm going to return to the captain's post on my relation-ship. :o) Have a wonderful weekend, stay healthy, and save the phone call for outside the restroom.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gandalf is a white wizard, not a blizzard.

We made sure to get our groceries early, and any supplies we may need for the weekend. Winter Storm Gandalf was scheduled to roar through the mid-west yesterday and today. Our area alone was slated for 3 to 6 inches of snow, ridiculous winds, and conditions that made going out inadvisable.

We got lots of wind, some freezing mist that left a thin layer of ice over everything, and an inch and a half of snow. Then we got sunshine and a little more wind. So here we home....

I had planned to watch the storm through my picture window all day and cozy up with some hot chocolate - but then the storm decided it didn't want to play, and hot chocolate didn't seem all that great. Granted, I'm glad we didn't get a lot of snow and even more glad that people can get out and about safely today. But...they said....oh well.

This morning while Brent was outside shoveling the driveway, I took a shower while Haley was playing with her dolls. She was coming in to the bathroom (rule #203874 of being a mom: you don't have any privacy ever. Under any circumstance.) giving me updates of what her dolls were doing. She had put them down to nap and told me I needed to be quiet. Cute.

I shut the water off in time to hear:
...running footsteps...bedroom door opening...
"Stop all this llama drama! You be patient for your mama!"
...door closing...

It was hilarious! Especially if you're familiar with the book Llama Llama Red Pajama. It's one of my favorite nighttime books to read to Haley and she apparently has adapted it to her playtime with the dolls.

The last week, Brent has been fighting some sort of cold bug. He's feeling better today (thank you, Lord) and is back at being a rock-star daddy. I'll tell you, I feel inept as a mother when I watch Brent with Haley. He is the kind of daddy any child would hope for. They've played Candy Land today, washed dishes together, painted with water colors, read books, and enjoyed lots of snuggles. I'm not feeling well at all, and so my contribution to Haley's upbringing today was taking a nap with her. You do the math on who's a cooler parent.

Cletus-the-she-fetus has no sympathy for my feeling ill, on top of my "I should do more even though I feel gross" mentality. She's been kicking the tar out of me all day. At times, it feels as though she's grabbing my uterine wall in her teeny palms, then doing back-flips pulling it with her all the way, then holding on while it un-spins itself. It's highly uncomfortable, and I have no idea what's going on in there, but she doesn't listen to me when I ask her to stop. She's already defiant. This will be fun.

Now that Gandalf has come and gone, and was a lot nicer than we all anticipated, (maybe the meteorologists should stop all their llama-drama when it comes to predicting storm impacts...) we're going to settle in for a little movie watching. Dumbo is in the queue for tonight.

I hope wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you all have a warm, wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I've had, what I would call, a craptastic day. Not a good day, but a bad, don't-want-a-repeat-of, everyone-is-a-moron kind of day. I've heard and read, however, that when you focus (continually) on what you're grateful for, it not only improves your mood, but can cure depression. Cure depression! I'm going to try to focus on those gratitude-attitude things tonight instead.

1. Yesterday I had to take Brent's car across town (actually, across the river to that other town in that other state). I noticed the windows were filthy, and he had less than a quarter tank of fuel. Brent hasn't been feeling well the last few days, and I don't remember the last time I had to put gas in the van myself (because he takes care of it for me most of the time) so I decided I would speak his love language - service - and fill his car with fuel and clean his windows. I wanted to keep it a secret and see if he noticed this morning, but I was so excited I couldn't. Why was I so excited about putting gas in a car and cleaning the windows? Because service is the love language I suck the most at, and any time I can do something to speak it to Brent, I get excited. He was very appreciative. I'm grateful that I have a husband whom I not only love, but whom I love showing in little ways how much he's loved!

2. Last night before I left, Little Miss was sitting at the dinner table when she piped up, "I want to shake my booty."
I'm sure the looks on Brent's and my faces were picture-worthy.
"You what?" Brent asked. I stifled (though not very well) a laugh.
"I want to shake my booty!" she said again, with a huge grin on her face.
"Where did you learn that?" asked Brent.
"At my Granny's house. Can I shake my booty now?" she replied, as she started to wiggle her badonkadonk where she sat.
I couldn't help it - I laughed out loud. So did Brent. "Granny" as she's affectionately known in these parts, is Haley's part-time babysitter. She has practically helped us raise our dear child since I'm still working full-time. I texted Granny who replied she may have in fact used that phrase that day. She followed up with "Can I still babysit?????" Haha!! I'm grateful Haley has people in her life who love and care for her, and that she is so sharp and doesn't let anything get past her.

3. Today, during the height of my craptastic experiences, Cletus-the-she-fetus was kicking up a storm in the womb. At one point I joked that she was doing to my insides what I wanted to do to someone's face. (Extra estrogen is a dangerous thing...) In all reality, though, I'm so very grateful to be carrying a little sister for Haley. My sister and I are so very close, and I would be lost in this life without her. I can only hope my children will form the same time of relational bond I have with my sister. So, Cletus-the-she-fetus, kick away little one! I love knowing that you're active, and I love anticipating what life will be like once you join us.

Huh. Whaddya know? I think I feel better, and this day can end on a great note after all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Beginning All Over Again

I just packed away the last of the Christmas decorations. They'll sit, stored and undisturbed in their little plastic tote bins for another 11 months, as we go on with our lives and the seasons that ebb and flow before us. It's hard to believe it took so long to get here, was over all too soon, and yet will be here again before we know it.

We just came back from a trek to Wyoming where the van pretended to run out of gas (it wasn't funny at the time, but it kind of is now), I ended up too sick to go shooting (argh!), and we spent time herding children, breaking up toddler fights, and sharing laughs, fudge, and making memories. Mom said at one point, and it strikes me as funny and true, "I don't think I can handle any more memory-making this Christmas..." There's a lesson in that sentence - always peel your vegetables over the trash. Maybe I'll get to that story someday, but just take my word for it. And thank you to my husband for griping at me years ago when he saw me peeling a potato over the sink. I haven't done it since...and Mom won't do it again.

We had a wonderful 2012, filled with blessings and life-lessons. Our little girl seems not-so-little anymore, as she chats up a storm and is sharp as a tack. Just last Christmas she was singing "Jingle Bells" - just those two words - over and over again. This Christmas she was singing every song known to man. We're expecting another little girl come this spring. I went through a wonderful program put on by United Way for 35 women professionals aged 35 or under. Our cats that were our "kids" for five years found a new home with a friend of Brent's, after our household allergies seemed to worsen by the day by keeping them here. (*Side story: We had been trying to give them to a good new home for an entire year. Then, duh, I finally decided to start praying about it. Two weeks later, they were headed to their new forever home.*) We hosted family coming for visits, said goodbye to the wonderful matriarch of Brent's family, took a couple trips to Wyoming, and we took in the many activities and conveniences our own city had to offer. We finally got the basement painted (after three years of talking about it). It's been a busy, and blessed year.

I've forgotten a lot of it, of course, because my mind isn't what it used to be. I've also deactivated my Facebook account (close to seven weeks ago now) so I can't scroll through my despised timeline to see what I've done or where I've been. (Extra estrogen is a powerful, and sometimes scary thing. If only everything were as easy as hitting a deactivate button to stop being annoyed though, right? Well played, Facebook.)

Now I sit, my house back to normal, wondering what the year ahead has in store for us. Little Cletus-the-she-fetus is practicing karate in-utero, Little Miss is finally quiet in her bed, and hubs is downstairs doing his Bible study. The only thing that would make this first day of the new year better is if it were warmer than 16 degrees outside, with no snow and lots of green grass. Even the winter has it's plus-sides, though.

Today marks seven years since Brent and I arrived in North Dakota, moving lock, stock, and barrel from Wyoming. Seven years. Friends were betting we wouldn't make it this long, family members were hoping we wouldn't, yet here we are. You, of all readers, know that I've griped and moaned many a time about living here, how much I miss the mountains and wilderness of Wyoming, and what I wouldn't give to go back. I have to say, honestly though, after 2012 especially, I'm comfortable here. This is my home now, I don't intend to leave any time soon (unless the Lord calls me to, of course) and I'm finally...finally...settled in. Yes, it's in print now, I consider myself an official citizen of the state of North Dakota. You had a lot to do with that, to-your-door-grocery-delivery. I'm not sure I can live without you now.

I resolved to do three things this year: 1) take Christmas decorations down by the end of today (check); 2) have a baby (halfway there); and 3) put our house up for sale and find a more kid-friendly layout home in our price-range, and in one of the neighborhoods we'd like to live in (dreaming big here!). I'm not sure if you're into resolutions, or how well you do with keeping them, but if you need encouragement to stick to your guns...well...I'll encourage you till I'm blue in the face if you come over and help us install baseboard trim in our basement, and help Brent put in a new shower surround in the downstairs bathroom. I promise.

Another year down, hard as it is to believe it came and went already, and another year ready to be explored, lived, and enjoyed. May your 2013 be bright, may your cup never be empty, and may your prayer life be filled with thanksgiving. Here's to YOU this year, my friend!