Four more lessons on marriage… (the 3-year edition)

To begin this post, please follow me down two very different trains of thought.

Train one: Three years ago, we got married! It’s hard to believe it was only three years ago. It feels more like 10 years… in a good way, of course. I’m feeling pretty lucky to be here, seeing as I tried to break up with Jonathan before we ever even started dating five years ago.

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Train two: In a recent conversation with my brother, who is obsessed with the Meyers-Briggs type indicator, I told him that I feel like I’m always making lists or trying to organize things, but I can’t ever maintain any of it. He told me, “well, that’s a very common characteristic of INFP’s… you crave organization, but you will never achieve it, no matter how hard you try.” He’s such an encourager.

So, in the spirit of lists and wedding anniversaries, here are four things I’ve learned in the past couple of years:

  1. The ways you show your love for each other become smaller… but they are actually bigger. Before we got married, showing affection meant planning a big date night or buying a gift or driving 20 minutes in the most horrible rainstorm of my life to watch a college football national championship with Jonathan. (Texas vs. Alabama… I didn’t even understand a single bit of football yet at that point. I was smitten.) Now, it’s setting the coffee pot up so all he has to do is turn it on in the morning, or cleaning out my hairbrush before packing it in a suitcase alongside his clothes, or not falling asleep during the Iron Bowl. But the little things add up to even more than the big things, because remembering each other in the little mundane details of life are what shows the other person that they’re special.
  2. There are some areas that will just always be his domain, and some will always be my domain. The DVR is still his spot. I have a folder, but it still lives on his DVR. Nothing is safe. I’m scared to start watching a recorded show and then stop partway through it, because he can see that I started it. He might assume that I didn’t want to finish it and then delete it… even if it is Next Great Baker (which is better than Christmas for me every year). I just. Don’t. Mess. With. The. DVR.
    But the kitchen is my domain. Don’t rearrange things, don’t try to organize things for me, and don’t use the wrong sponge to wash the dishes (there are three: the Normal Dishwashing Sponge, the Baby Related Dishes Dishwashing Sponge, and the Soap-Free Sponge). If I left the paprika out on the counter, then next time I need it I will know that it’s out on the counter. If you put it away, I won’t be able to find it, I’ll assume it’s all gone, I’ll add it to my grocery list and I’ll buy more. This is how I once ended up with three containers of ground ginger, two of allspice, and more cream of tartar than I could use in a year.
  3. When dusting shelves or dressers, you have to know what you can and can not touch. Bear Bryant bobble heads are safe. Books are safe. Snow globes with Bryant Denny Stadium inside are safe. Any kind of ball (be it foot or base) that is inside a plastic box is NOT safe… leave them dusty. Better to deal with the allergies than to risk dropping them or causing damage by breathing on them too hard. It’s not that I would get kicked out of the house or grounded from the Food Network or anything if something happened. But the sorrow that I would cause if I broke something would probably kill me dead. In fact, I rearranged some bookshelves with two boxed footballs and four boxed baseballs last week, and I held my breath in terror as I carefully moved each one to it’s new home. My plan was to not say anything about it… Jonathan wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t. But I felt so guilty for touching them that I confessed about 27 minutes after he got home that day. (He was okay with it… I still felt guilty).
  4. You keep learning things about each other all the time. Do people that have been married for 20 years know everything about each other? We’ve only been married three years, but just when I think I’ve learned all the little idiosyncrasies about Jonathan, something new pops up. He confessed to me only a couple months ago that he really doesn’t care for pasta + tomato sauce dishes. I didn’t know. I LOVE them. I would announce “Spaghetti for dinner! WOOHOO! YAY! SPAGHETTI!” and he’d say “spaghetti? Oh.”
    I always figured he was just too tired to show me all of his excitement, but not until he came out and told me one day, “Lacey, you know, I’m just not really a big spaghetti fan,” did I realize that I should maybe cut the spaghetti back to once every few months rather than once a week (or once a day, which I would prefer).
    I also learned that he uses my tweezers to pluck his eyebrows. One night just a couple weeks ago, he came out of the bathroom and asked, “Lacey? Where are your tweezers?” I stared at him open-mouthed for a long time before he asked again. So first, I had to get over the fact that he used them, and then I had to get over the fact that my tweezers had mysteriously disappeared. I guess the fact that my husband discovered that my tweezers were missing before I did shows a little something about my personal grooming habits. :-/
    Another new thing? The cleanliness of our floors is directly related to his happiness quotient. The floors in this house are lighter than the floors in either of the other two houses we’ve lived in, so you can actually see when our floors are dirty. Sometimes, things get a little rough and he’ll get a little flustered and floopy, for lack of a better term. A trip around the house with a vacuum cleaner and a mop, and it resets him. Unfortunately, I have also learned that I like vacuuming and mopping even less than I thought I did.
    To even things out, I asked him what he’s learned about me recently, and he said “I learned that you like mayonnaise on your grilled cheese, and that you actually need more alone time to recharge than I originally thought you did.”signature

(I posted five things I learned in the first year here: The Top Five Things I’ve Learned Since We Got Married )

 

Things That Have Surprised Me About Being a Mom

Being a mom has been surprising. I was surprised when I found out I was going to be a mom (think: full-blown panic attack right there in the bathroom), I was surprised he turned out to be a boy (I had a girl name ready to go and I was SO STOKED about dressing her in glittery pink tutus), and I am consistently surprised by how much I freaking love this kid. Like, I knew you loved your children… but whoa. I would happily jump off a bridge headfirst for him. I would eat a tarantula for him if I had to (although I’m not sure why this scenario would ever be real). I don’t mind holding him when he cries, and I have no problem changing his nasty diapers. It is more love than any human should ever have to cope with.

Anyway, in the spirit of entertainment and education, here are six things that have surprised me about being a mom (in no particular order):

  1. Bodily fluids are no big deal. There’s poop on my arm? Oh well… I’ll wipe it onto my shorts. It’s not THAT much, and that’s what washing machines are for, right? Spit up on my shoulder? Who cares… since I only have 6 shirts that really fit me right now anyway, no way am I changing for something so trivial. Uncle Caleb had a conniption when Judah threw up on his shoulder one night, and I was genuinely bewildered over it being such a traumatic event for him. It dries. Last week we had a urine fountain and a spit-up geyser happening at the same time during a diaper change. I found it more funny than horrifying. Also, I can for the first time in my life say that I have picked another person’s nose. It was necessary.
  2. So. Much. Laundry. For someone who hates folding laundry more than almost anything else in the world (I hate ironing more. Ironing = throwing my clothes back into the dryer), choosing cloth diapers seems like a bad idea about 50 times a day… every time I look over and realize that I have another load of diapers to fold or stuff. Also, I’m not changing my own clothes that are wet with spit-up, but you better believe Judah’s getting changed, poor little guy. And there is the burp cloth that probably got soaked, and sometimes the sheet in his crib if he was laying in there when it happened (or, this morning, my pillowcase). This less-than-10-pound person creates about 3 times more laundry than two adults, and just because his clothes are tiny doesn’t make it any less work.
  3. The sleep deprivation isn’t as bad as people make it seem. “You’re pregnant? Well, say goodbye to sleep for the REST OF YOUR LIFE” is what everyone says when you make the big announcement. People like to crush your excitement and hopes and dreams with tales of woe about exhaustion and poop (but since we’ve established that poop is no big deal, it’s really just the exhaustion that’s a problem). But really. Maybe he’s an exceptionally good sleeper, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised about how un-foggy I’ve actually felt. Of course, my husband says that’s because normal people “newborn brain” is actually equivalent to Lacey’s “normal brain,” and he has a point. The other day I asked him to “please hand me the microwave” (I meant my nursing cover), and he didn’t even blink.
  4. I’m a much more strict parent than I thought I’d be. I thought I’d be a super chill, kick-you-out-of-the-nest-and-become-your-own-person mom, but I’m officially not. Judah and I had to have a stern conversation at 4:00 the other morning about how he’s not allowed to date until he’s 65, he’s not allowed to play football ever, and he may not pursue a career as an astronaut.
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  5. The kid’s sleep is entertaining. Seriously. My standards of entertainment have changed drastically. The faces he makes while he’s dreaming… bestillmyheart. I don’t know what he’s dreaming about, but it must very quickly range from funny to sad, from happy to horrifying… and he shows it all on his face. And his pacifier somehow ends up on the floor, under his crib, 5 nights out of 7. How does this happen? We don’t know. But, just for the record, it’s really hard to get a pacifier out from under the crib WHILE holding the crying baby. I strongly recommend putting the baby down first, especially if you have short arms.
  6. Baby clothes are weird. I organized them all so neatly by size (a large accomplishment), only to find that size means almost nothing. Judah now supposedly wears size 0-3 months… but some of those clothes are already too small, some are still huge, some of his newborn clothes still fit, and some of his 3-6 months clothes fit too. It’s such a disaster for my already unorganized-yet-OCD mind. I want to write letters to all baby clothing manufacturers and request that they please have a meeting and create standard sizing. Dressing my child should not be stressful like blue jean shopping (seriously, if I’m a size 8 just let me be a size 8 everywhere. I’m often a size 8 in one store, a size 6 in another and a 14 in another. It’s like a confidence roller coaster). For real. Being a mom is so weird. And so awesome. And so stressful and cool.signature

The Yearly Football Post

Today is the most important holiday in the state of Alabama.*

College football officially started Thursday (and all the world rejoiced), but the Crimson Tide plays their first game today. Grocery stores have chicken wings on sale, men are re-organizing their closets by color (so that the crimson shirts are more easily accessible), and women are showing their newly houndstoothed** toenails off on Facebook.

In our house, this day rivals Christmas (which is a big, big deal for my husband). He has been gearing up for this for weeks… however many weeks it has been since Alabama’s last game, in fact.

If you live in the south, care at all about sports, OR spend more than 36 seconds watching ESPN each day, you know that the SEC network was launched recently. THAT day was, to Jonathan, like Christmas, his birthday, and a bowl of ice cream all rolled up in a circus burrito. We*** have spent hours in the past week watching Tim Tebow, Greg What’s-His-Face, and their buddies scrutinize every coach, every quarterback, and every blade of grass in SEC territory.

Judah has been groomed for this day for months now… and he is only 6 weeks old. He was learning the fight song while still in the womb. He was watching hype videos to soothe him at 2 weeks old. And he’s been educated on the magic of College Gameday.

In the last few years, I have learned to appreciate college football (and it’s coverage), to an extent. I enjoy watching Alabama play, though sitting still through an entire game is still asking A LOT. I enjoy following the interesting storylines of certain players (it’s amazing, the level of like or dislike you can feel for someone that you don’t know at all in real life). I have a fondness for Paul Finebaum. I spent some time a couple of weeks ago trying to explain to my mother why watching a radio show about football on TV can actually be amusing (I think she was aghast that I was capable of having such an opinion). And if I ever got the opportunity to meet Kirk Herbstreit, I would look like this:
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BUT. I will never have a love for football like my husband does. Most recently Jonathan has been preparing for a fantasy football draft. I know less than nothing about fantasy football, partly because it has to do with a whole other beast called the NFL. I know that in our house, we like the Saints, and that is all I know. My understanding of fantasy football drafts was that you pick a couple of players, keep track of how they do in real life, and if you win, awesome. If you don’t, sad.

“Preparation” had no part of it in my mind. I was so wrong. I did not know that you can spend hours sitting at the computer waiting for it to beep at you so that you can quickly make a life-altering decision about which tight end to select. I did not know that magazines have entire articles devoted to fantasy football drafting techniques. I did not know there were fantasy football drafting techniques. I did not know that there are whole TV shows where people sit around and talk about how, who, or why to draft (which Jonathan watches intently while muttering “mmhmm,” “oh yes,” or “no way” like an old lady in church). The decision about whether to draft a good running back or a good quarterback first is a decision that must be properly agonized over, for it can make or break your team and therefore your life.

Last night men came to our house. They sat at our table and ate chips and drank drinks and stared at their beeping computers and asked “so what do we think of (insert name here)?” I tried to watch and learn, and here are my observations:
I learned that a “sleeper” is not necessarily what I dress Judah in at night.
I learned that there is a man named Megatron (you can’t imagine my relief when I discovered that that isn’t the name on his birth certificate).
I learned something about someone running the ball a lot and injuries and rain.

And I concluded that while I like the game of football 1,367% more than the game of basketball, March Madness is 439% more fun than fantasy football.

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*I stand corrected. After proofreading this for me (because I can never remember if “running back” is one word or two), Jonathan reminded me that the Iron Bowl is actually the most important holiday. Today is #2.

**Yes, that is a real word in the south.

***”We” means that Jonathan watches while I either listen from the kitchen (where I am baking something involving peanut butter or basil), sleeping on the couch beside him, or reading a book.

Here’s Judah!

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There are two things that I always considered to be absolute truths when it came to having babies:

1) My mom had super incredibly fast labors, so since I am her daughter, the same thing will happen to me. (I had mixed feelings about this truth… thank-goodness-I-won’t-be-in-pain-for-long-but-I-hope-we-make-it-to-the-hospital kind of feeings).
2) Newborns do nothing but eat and sleep. And poop. But mostly sleep.

Neither of these are true.

I spent several weeks preparing my very squeamish husband for the possibility of delivering a baby in the car. I encouraged him by saying that in the moment, he wouldn’t even notice blood; he’d worry about that later. I explained to him that tying off the umbilical cord would be important… hopefully, one of us would be wearing tennis shoes, so that we would have a shoelace to use. I made sure that our bags were packed and stayed in the car at all times, the gas tank was always at least half full, and with every Braxton Hicks contraction that hit (and there were a LOT), I would glance at my watch to check the time… because the SECOND I hit six contractions in an hour, we were going to be ON THE ROAD. (I had 5 in one hour on at least seven different occasions in the last two weeks of my pregnancy).

Instead, I was blessed with an almost 42-week pregnancy that ended in an induction, a 22-hour labor, and 1 hour and 57 minutes of pushing.

As far as the activities of newborns go… no. It’s all wrong. MY newborn likes to play, and talk, and watch ceiling fans spin, and cry and cry and cry… not because his diaper is full, or because he’s hungry, or because his belly hurts (although this IS often the case, poor guy)… but because he is bored. Even while you are holding him sometimes, he cries… until you talk to him, or sing to him, or squish his face around to make him look like Yoda. He feels a need to be entertained. At 4 weeks old. I did not bargain for this.

The good news is, Judah Cary is a very bright-eyed little dude who eats like a champ. The bad news is, he inherited his father’s horrible chronic nasal congestion. More good news is that he has a head full of beautiful, soft hair. More bad news is that he’s a fabulous “before” picture for Baby Proactive right now.

Some Judah-facts: On one particularly emotional night, he quit crying when his dad played the Alabama Football 2014 Hype Video for him. His burps are super manly and impressive. He HATES blankets, socks, or being constricted in any way. Being buckled into his car seat is equivalent to being shot in the eye with a rubber band gun. He neither loves nor hates bath time; it seems to simply bewilder him. He and Ramona are already besties.

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So, that’s our Judah. Here’s hoping he grows up with his Dad’s kindheartedness and my taste in movies. Jonathan intends for him to be the next AJ McCarron, and I intend for him to be the next Bobby Flay. Here’s hoping for a softhearted, Princess Bride-loving, football-throwing, spatula-wielding man.

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Ramona the Spider-Slayer (in training)

Ramona loves food more than anything in the world.
It does more than keep her alive. It keeps her happy. It fulfills her. Every morning, she sits outside the kitchen window and watches me mournfully as I get my breakfast & lunch ready… it’s like she is trying to telepathically send me a message: “feedmefeedmefeedme.”

And when you take food to her, she jumps, and spins, and tries to hug you to convey just how happy she is that you are bringing her food. Then she runs into her doghouse, spins in a circle, comes back out and sits by her bowl, tongue hanging out, anxiously awaiting the moment when you pour the food into her bowl so that she can commence The Eating.

Usually, feeding her is Jonathan’s job. Partly because she respects him enough to not give him full-on bear hugs when she sees the cup of food in his hand. Partly because when she does give me bear hugs, she is big enough to knock me over and at this point, I’d never be able to get up. And partly because the only thing she might love almost as much as food is Jonathan, and I’d hate to deprive her of a visit from “her” man.

The other morning, though, her man had to leave for an early meeting, and he left the duty of feeding her to me… as long as the yard wasn’t flooded. It had rained the other night, and our yard has no drainage at all. As in none. When it rains, it turns into a swamp. Ramona doesn’t care… she’ll still prance right through it, spraying mud and rainwater all over you as she tells you just how happy she is that you’re bringing her food. But once I am dressed and ready for work, the last thing I feel like encountering is a Puppy of Unusual Size dancing through her own personal fire swamp (minus the fire) to celebrate the Food.

Luckily (or unluckily), the yard wasn’t too flooded on this morning. A little damp, but nothing me, my rolled up dress pants and Jonathan’s shoes couldn’t handle. I measured out her food, opened the gate, and was met with a giant pink tongue and the happiest puppy-smile ever. I could almost hear her saying “I love you! I love you! It’s breakfast time! I love you!”

I had to dump mud and leaves out of both of her bowls, and I knew a rinsing was necessary before I poured food into either one of them. I carried one over to the water spigot to do it, when I saw it.
(insert scary monster music here)
A green (yes, green), hairy (yes, hairy), spider the size of my head my fingernail. On the spigot. Right on top. Where my hand needed to go to turn on the water.

I turned to tell Ramona that I was sorry… mud-flavored food might be good after all, and who needs fresh water? But she was standing there with such anticipation in her eyes, being so good and not bear-hugging me… I knew I owed her mud-free food and water. So I used the only weapon I had around to slay the beast: I beat it to death with her water bowl.

The metal water bowl on the metal spigot was loud enough to give the spider a heart attack, even if I missed… which I did, the first 3 or 18 times. The little monster ran, climbed, dodged and ducked all over the water faucet as I banged the bowl down around him. Ramona spun in circles, barking her encouragement (or distress; those two barks sound so similar). Finally, it held still long enough for me to aim, pull back, and SMACK. He still didn’t fall, though; he just hung there from his little thread, dangling underneath the faucet, very still. Hoping he was defeated and not just playing dead so that I would put my hand near him, I rinsed out the dog bowl as fast as humanly possible. As Ramona planted her two front feet on either side of it and devoured her food, I rinsed and filled her other bowl (also as fast as humanly possible), and got far away from the (hopefully) dead spider.

“Ramona,” I said, “if you want to eat when Jonathan is gone, you’re going to have to learn to take care of these spiders yourself.”

She ignored me. She was eating.

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How Not to Use a Blowout (or: if You Don’t Have Opposable Thumbs, You Can’t Help)

Have I mentioned that we have plumbing drama in our home?
We do. There are gremlins in our pipes. And you know, since you aren’t supposed to get gremlins wet, it never turns out well.

It really started when we bought the house and began the renovation process, but I didn’t pay much attention to all of that. I heard words like “pex” and “diameter” and decided to tune it out and let my Jedi Master husband and uncle worry about all that. I was busy perusing paint swatches, after all.

All I know is that from the beginning we have had pretty much the worst water pressure that mankind has ever seen in our laundry sink… and that the water you CAN squeeze out of it is yellow. The same rules apply to the toilet in that room. Fortunately, the whole washer setup is new, so that water is good to go.

The toilet randomly decides to purge itself of water… all the water. The bowl, the tank, and any residual water lingering in nearby pipes all get emptied onto the floor. And by emptied I mean “poured out with a dramatic whoosh.” And by onto the floor, of course, I mean “under the chest freezer, washer, dryer, and anything else that is touching the ground at that moment.”

Our kitchen sink also has a gremlin. It likes to stop things up so that NOTHING drains. Occasionally, after washing dishes, if you let the water sit for a good hour or so it would slowly drain… but if the dishwasher was running, forget it. And if you had to use the garbage disposal, everything that went down the disposal would reappear in the other sink bowl… just more chopped up and gross looking.

This happened several times, and several times we used various un-clogging techniques to fix it. But then, the Ultimate Gremlin lodged itself in those pipes, and nothing was working… except, maybe, a blowout.

We had done a blowout once before, but with my dad’s help. This time, he was busy and unable to find his blowout, so we were on our own. Jonathan went to the hardware store and bought one while I was at work, only to bring it home and determine that no, there was no way for one person to do it alone. And since Ramona didn’t have opposable thumbs, it was game over until I got home from work.

For those of you who know exactly as much about plumbing as I do, a blowout is a heavy duty black balloon that you screw onto the end of a water hose. You detach the pipe to your kitchen sink, put the blowout up in there, and turn on the water. The balloon slowly fills up, until it is very full and has lots of pressure built up, and then releases. The sudden, strong surge of water is supposed to dislodge any gremlins and/or clogs that are making themselves comfortable in your pipes.

I arrived home that day to find a water hose stretched through my house and into the kitchen. There were towels and buckets strewn around. All the pipes were disconnected from my sink. Jonathan was ready.

My job was simple: turn on the water hose when he yelled “go,” and turn it off when he yelled “stop.” We put Ramona in her kennel because she was offering way too much moral support, and assumed our positions.

“GO!” Jonathan yelled. I turned the water hose on as high as it would go. Then I waited. And waited. And waited.
“Is it working?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” he yelled back. “It’s not making the right noises.”
Ramona paced, upset that we weren’t letting her help.

After a couple of minutes, I was about to suggest that we turn off the water and see if anything had changed… when Jonathan started screaming from the kitchen.
“STOP! STOP! STOP THE WATER! STOP IT NOW!”
I ran to the faucet and turned it. And turned it. The problem with those water spigots is that you have to turn about 15 times to get it on all the way, and then 15 times to turn it off. I spun as fast as I could.

“THERE IS WATER COMING FROM THE ROOF!” Jonathan yelled as I spun. Well, that was crazytalk, so I kind of ignored it. Finally, the water turned off. But the yelling continued. “WE NEED MORE TOWELS! RUN! TOWELS! NOW!” I ran past the kitchen – and the water cascading from underneath the sink – and snatched up an armload of the largest, most absorbant towels I could find. I dove into the kitchen and started mopping like my life depended on it. Jonathan was furiously mopping alongside me, and Ramona was still letting us know she wanted to help!

Once we got the cabinets and floor relatively dry, and a fan blowing on all of it, we went outside to investigate. Jonathan insisted that water had been coming out of our roof. I knew this was impossible, and that he was hallucinating. I was about to offer to check him for a fever when he decided to call upon the All Knowing Uncle John.

The All Knowing Uncle John (previously referred to as Jedi Master Uncle) revealed to us something fascinating about plumbing and vents in the roof and pipes and blah blah zzzzzzzz……

The point he made was that there is a vent in the roof, and yes, if your pipes are clogged badly enough, water WILL be forced up and out of that vent. WHAT. When I turned the spigot off, all of the water that was headed up suddenly came down (way to go Isaac Newton), flooding our kitchen and causing Jonathan to have a heart attack. The only way to fix it was to have a third human (I specify human because Ramona was STILL offering to help) on top of the roof to plug the vent with a towel.

So, two days later, we talked my youngest brother into coming over and helping us. It was a Sunday and since he hadn’t made it home yet, he climbed up on our roof in his nice black pants, fancy shirt and shiny black shoes to do the dirty work. What a pal.

This time, the blowout worked. Water whooshed through the pipes like it was supposed to. Our house did not flood upside down. And after 30 minutes of putting the puzzle that is plumbing back together under my sink, all was well with the world… or at least with my garbage disposal.

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RIP Pete

Pete Hochstetler
2005 (ish) – 2014

petePete Hochstetler passed away on February 4, 2014. He was believed to be a Catahoula Leopard dog, presumably born in Southern Alabama in early 2005. He had been a resident of the Hochstetler home, having adopted them in the summer of 2005. He chose to keep them after they found him he found them in some bushes near their home.

He was believed to be an active member of the Jack Springs Doggie Fight Club, and was known for his prowess and strength and incredible will to live. He enjoyed the many things that a dog life has to offer, such as eating, sleeping in the sun, rolling in gross smelling things, and cozying up to the lady dogs in the nighborhood.

Pete was a veteran of many battles associated with a dog’s life, having survived being shot, getting hit by multiple cars and trucks, snakebites, and countless fights with many different kinds of animals.

Pete fought his last fight on Sunday, and, unfortunately, lost a subsequent battle with infections in his wounds.

Pete is survived by his human parents, four human siblings, one human brother-in-law, a cousin dog, many girlfriends and countless offspring (fondly known as RePetes).

A Celebration of Life service was held on the evening of February 4, at approximately 6:00 pm in the backyard.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you quietly take a nap in a sunny spot in your yard today, to honor Pete’s memory.

A Guest Post from Ramona

Dear humans,

My people left me behind for the day, so I thought maybe I could tell you about my life, because people really don’t pay enough attention to dogs.

My man is named Jonathan and my lady is named Lacey. Lacey wears really nice shoes; some of them are shiny and I like to lick those, and there is one pair with bows that I like a lot. One day I know she will let me eat one of the bows, or maybe both of them. I try to show her that that is the thing that I want most in the world, by licking them and jumping onto her feet when she wears them, but she does not like that.

Jonathan plays with me, with the rope that he gave me when I first came to live with them. Sometimes he lets me have one end in my mouth, and he holds the other one in his hand, and we pull and pull until he has to let go of the rope and I win. I think if he held it in his mouth, too, he sometimes would win, but he is not smart enough to figure that out.

My favorite part of the day is when I get to eat food. I know that my food is kept in a drawer in a desk in my bedroom. Sometimes Jonathan and Lacey forget where it is kept, so I have to show them by standing beside the drawer and barking. Then they remember and they give me scoops of the yummy food. One time I got so excited, I wanted to thank Lacey for feeding me so I tried to give her a hug, but I stepped in the bowl and my food went everywhere. I tried to show her that I did not mind eating off of the floor, but she cleaned it up anyway. She missed some pieces though, and I ate those later for a snack.

My least favorite part of the day is in the morning when I really have to go potty, and it takes Lacey so long to come let me out. When she does, I try to invite her to come along, but she doesn’t. She stands in the doorway and waits. So I run as fast as I can outside, and I go potty, and run inside. Sometimes I run so fast that I crash into the car, or slide on leaves. That is not fun, and Lacey laughs at me.

I am not allowed to leave my bedroom. There is a whole big house here, but I have to stay in my bedroom. I do not like this, but when I try to explain that, they will not listen. So I like to drag all of my toys and my blanket and my food bowl into the doorway of the bedroom, so I can get as close to Jonathan and Lacey as possible. I want them to know that I love them, so I try to show them by telling them, or by kissing their shoes. They do not seem to understand that is what I am saying, though.

Sometimes, they put me Outside. Outside is a very big place. I have a big wooden fence to keep me safe, but it is such a big place that I still get a little scared. They usually give me my rope and my water bowl to keep me company, but it is still scary. There are funny looking cats with big fluffy tails that live there, and it seems to be their Outside, and I do not want to make them mad, so I stay far away from them. Lacey says that makes me a strange dog, but I think it makes me a responsible one. I have a hole that I have dug underneath a window. It is warm and safe and I can hear my peoples’ voices from there, so I know they haven’t left me. There has been talk of me moving Outside permanently, when I am bigger, so I am doing my best to stay small and be good so that that day does not come.

I also do not like Bathtime. It is very wet and cold and my shampoo smells funny. But sometimes after Bathtime Jonathan points a black tool at me and it sprays nice warm air. I do like that part.

Jonathan likes to play a game he calls “Lion King” with me too. He hold me up in the air so I can see very far away, and sings a funny song. He thinks I like it, but Lacey says I do not, and she is right. It is scary up there, and it makes my belly feel strange.

Well that is all about my life. I think you can see it is very exciting, but also boring in some parts.

I love you very much.

Ramona-sig

PS, I forgot to tell you about my bear! It is my favorite toy. It is soft and it squeaks when I jump on it. I like to cuddle with it at night.

That is all.

2013, in five bullet points… and what’s coming in 2014!

Problems with growing up:
You have to actually remember things, because your mom isn’t there to remind you.
Paying bills.
No more sleeping in. Like, ever.
You are supposed to do courteous things like send Christmas cards and Christmas letters. Every year.

We have now been married for three Christmases, and for three Christmases we have failed to send a card or letter. To anyone. I will admit that is due in equal parts to forgetfulness, procrastination, and laziness.
(Forgetfulness: “Oh, we forgot to do Christmas cards, and it’s December 15 already!”
Procrastination: “Oh well, we can figure something out tomorrow.”
Laziness: “Eh, it’s December 20th. It’s just not worth all the hustle I’d have to put into it now.”)
So, in lieu of the traditional Christmas letter… here are the bullet points of 2013:

The House

This might be the #1 biggest accomplishment for 2013… right up there with me using a pressure cooker without blowing myself up, and Jonathan discovering a new love for mayonnaise (we aim high around here). I have those “after” pictures of the house. I doubt they will make it into this post, but they will make it up eventually. They are trapped in my camera right now, crying for release. For now, let’s just say it is BEAUTIFUL.

The Employment

Jonathan is still the jack-of-all-trades (Jonathan-of-all-trades?) that he has been since we got hitched. He works more hours at the local Christian radio station now, and of course spends LOTS of hours pouring his heart out as youth pastor. As far as they let us know, the kids still like him, so he must be doing something right. He is a super good teacher, which also is why he’s excited about coaching a local school’s baseball team this spring, and tutoring one of our 5th grade friends in the fine art of mathematics. Good teachers are hard to find, and sometimes they are just as valuable OUTSIDE the classroom setting as in it, no?

I stayed on at the bank I work at, making it offically the longest I have ever stayed at one job (I’m not that much of a flake, I promise… I always ended up moving or starting school before spending a long time at any other job). I try to help out with the youth as much as I can, and since my strengths are DEFINITELY planning activities and organizing events rather than teaching or discipling, those things fall to me whenever I am able to muster up the time to do them. I’ve also been doing a lot of baking and a tiny bit of media work for the church.

blog6Dieting and Running and Mysterious Illnesses

We both actually did pretty well with a “be healthier” New Years Resolution. We ran our first two 5k’s, ate much healthier, and we both lost quite a bit of weight (yes, some of it has crept back on towards the end of the year, but we both feel much better and definitely can tell a difference in how our clothes fit from 365 days ago). Regardless, I spent most of the summer sick, and it took forever to figure out why.

First, I had some mysterious virus that wasn’t technically Mono but acted exactly like it. Naturally, I waited until it had almost cured itself to go to the doctor for it… but it was nice to know why I had been feeling like death for a few months. After that, I was still feeling sick to my stomach 90% of the time… and, after a self-diagnosis we figured out that I am now, mysteriously, intolerant of caffeine. After switching completely to decaf, I am like a new person… it only took two days to get over headaches and about a week to not get extra sleepy every afternoon. AND we figured it out about a week before I was scheduled to make a trip to a specialist… saving us a copay and myself a dreaded visit to yet another doctor. Hot dog!

Accomplishments We are Proud Of

blog5As mentioned before, Jonathan decided he likes mayonnaise. He perfected the art of grilling pizza. He painted all of the ceilings in our house, which took about a kabillion gallons of paint (just kidding, it took 13). He did a lot of skiing backwards when we were in Colorado in February. He started eating salad… often. He got a Red Robin Loyalty card, which gets us free food every now and then. He carried his iPhone along on our first 5k, which was a color run, and it didn’t get ruined. He bought a motorcycle. He didn’t have a heart attack after the Iron Bowl. He fearlessly led our youth group to camp, where we dominated in the homemade boat race with our Dragon Pool Noodle Viking Ship.

blog4I learned how to make yummy salads. I settled on paint colors for our house, after changing my mind only 17 times. I went snow-shoeing with my mother-in-law, got lost in the wilderness, and didn’t die. I completed almost half of a Sudoku puzzle book, in ink, and only totally messed up about 5 puzzles. There was the aforementioned pressure-cooker adventure (and now I have canned green beans!). I helped my mom bake 100 loaves of bread in one day. I’ve broken the power button on two iPhones… the first one got replaced, but I’m still waiting on the second. As I said before, I’ve lived almost four months now without caffeine.

The Puppy

Our family grew a little bit this winter, with the addition of Ramona the Chocolate Lab. She is an energetic ball of fur with one droopy eye that won’t develop properly. This means she has almost no peripheral vision on that side and she crashes into things sometimes. Not funny for her, hilarious for us.

blog3She is going to be an outside dog, but right now she’s tiny and it’s cold outside, so she spends nights and some parts of the day inside. She only recently learned to entertain herself in the yard, running through piles of leaves and destroying her little chewing rope. Before, she liked to stand at the gate and peer out through the cracks in the boards, or hang out under the dining room window and voice her displeasure at being left alone. Jonathan has her pretty well trained that when she is inside,

she stays in the mudroom. No crossing the line into the rest of the house, period. So, anytime she is in there, she gathers her towel (she has her own special blue towel to snuggle with), her bone, her teddy bear, and her rope, and lays right in the doorway, chewing or sleeping or pouting. She does whatever she can to be as close to us as she can get. Oh… and she uses her teddy bear for a pillow. Every time.

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The Ultrasound: What’s coming in 2014

Possibly the #1 greatest highlight of this year?

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Seeing this picture on a screen in a doctor’s office… and knowing that it’s going to be a baby soon!
Yup… our family is still growing. This ultrasound was taken in mid-November, so fingers crossed Peanut looks more like a baby and less like a blob by now.
To quickly answer the top “Oh my goodness you’re pregnant!” questions:
We are due July 3. I have been VERY sick, but thanks to some miracle medicine, I’m able to function. We do plan on finding out the gender, and yes, we’ll share it… but no names until baby is born. =) I’m craving orange juice and Thai spring rolls (which you can’t buy in our town, booo).

Here’s hoping you all have a fabulous 2014!

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Cracks & Consequences: a kitchen building adventure

Last night I got to play construction worker. I didn’t have a hard hat, but I got to play with tools and wood and stuff.

It was kitchen building time! Our house is humming right along (I really want to remember to take pictures and post them, but my rememberer is broken). We’re to the point where flooring and cabinets are happening (eeeek!). I hunted and hunted and spent hours on the internet trying to find a decent cabinet man, and finally settled on one that I’ve known for a few years and typically does fairly decent work. I call him “Dad.”*

In order to get the “family discount,” we get to help with the building process. Which is fun and scary. Fun because I get to use tools and see all these plain, flat pieces of wood turn into a beautiful blue kitchen, and scary because I’m afraid if the cabinets fall off the walls in two weeks it can be blamed on me.

I helped put the first few cabinets together. By “helped” I mean I held things while Dad clamped them into place. Then he handed me a staple gun and said, “put a staple right here!”

I froze and panicked. His hand was right beside “right here.” And he doesn’t usually let me use things that are sharp or loud, so I was afraid his mind was finally going. But he appeared to be serious, so I took the gun from him, aimed, closed my eyes, realized closing my eyes was a bad idea, opened my eyes, and pulled the trigger. Nothing. “I think it’s on safety,” I told Dad.

“It doesn’t have a safety,” he said. Then he took it and shook it violently, wiggled a button, spoke some sort of voodoo magic charm over it, and gave it back. I repeated the whole aiming-closing-and-opening eyes process, then shot again. BAM.
IMG_1072It was frighteningly satisfying. So, we worked our way down that cabinet and down the next one, stapling and shooting and lining up and whatnot. Jonathan followed with a screwdriver, and my mother watched and gave helpful advice.

After a few cabinets had been assembled (I think it should be called “scrapling” because of the screwdriver-staple combo), it was time to fill gaps and cracks and chips with wood putty. Which became my job. Here is what you need to know about this process:

  1. 1. We had put “edge banding” (?) on the cabinets the night before. Jonathan glued it; I trimmed it. In the trimming process, a lot of it chipped and cracked and broke. We had to fix those spots with putty.
    2. The putty looks like peanut butter. It feels like peanut butter. I was told it would not taste like peanut butter.
    3. The putty looks very easy and fun to do when Dad does it. It is a hot mess and ended up all over the floor when I tried.
    4. You have to see small things (like chips and cracks) when doing this job, so you don’t miss anything. It is a job for a very detail-oriented person.
    5. I am NOT a detail-oriented person.

We created an assembly line. Dad and Jonathan scrapled the cabinets together. I delicately spread smeared, smashed, and crammed the peanut butter-putty into cracks and gaps in the wood. Mom sanded the sides of the cabinets. Then they came back to me, and I sanded the fronts. My instructions for sanding the fronts sounded like this:

“Run the sander over all the fronts, like this, until they are smooth. Then go over the edges so they are smooth. Do the inside and outside edges of the tops and bottoms, but ONLY the inside edge of the sides. Do NOT sand the outside edges of the sides. I repeat, DO NOT sand these edges! Don’t sand them! Sand only these edges… NOT THESE.”

I was afraid for my life (and the lives of my cabinets) for the first few minutes of sanding. But then I got a system going. I was rolling right along, sanding and smoothing and having a good old time, cranking them out at a decent pace. Then, about halfway through my 4th or 5th cabinet, I realized I had sanded the DO NOT SAND edge.

I looked across the room at Dad. He was busy scrapling. He hadn’t seen anything. I looked at Mom. She was sanding, too. I waved my arms at her and she looked up. “I SANDED THE WRONG EDGE!” I mouthed to her, pointing at the rounded corner that wasn’t supposed to be round.

Her eyes got wide. Her mouth dropped open. She looked at dad. “Just don’t tell him!” she mouthed back. I nodded and went back to sanding.

As the evening wore on, I began to worry about the consequences of sanding the wrong edge. What if THAT led to my kitchen cabinets falling off my wall in two weeks? When the scrapling was done, I spoke up in the most non-committal way possible.

“Hey dad.”
“Yeah.”
“Say… hypothetically speaking… if I DID sand the wrong edge… what would happen?”
“You’d have a hypothetical crack between two of your cabinets.”
“Hmm. That would just give it some character, right? Nothing too bad would happen.”
“I suppose. Why? Did you sand a wrong edge?”
“Maybe. Hypothetically, of course.”

Then mom spoke up.

“Why don’t you look and see if you can find an edge that wasn’t supposed to be sanded but is?” she pointed to our growing pile of finished cabinets.

So dad dove in and hunted. And he found one. Then he told me that that one actually needed to be sanded anyway, for some reason.
“Right!” I told him. “I knew that. I did it on purpose, to save you some work later.”
“Right,” he said.

Man, my instincts as a kitchen-builder are spot-on. I think I’ve missed my calling.

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*P.S. – kidding about the whole “hunting for a cabinet man” thing. Dad really builds cabinets, and does a darn good job. Click here to see his website.