Monday, December 14, 2009

From the Date Night Archives: Horseback Picnic, Part One

Tanner and I have two horses, Stetson and Pepper. They live on the 2 or so acres that surround our rental home.

This is Stetson. He spends most of his time eating, chasing Pepper away from his food (Stetson considers all food to be his food), rolling in the dirt, ignoring the curious neighboring horses who hang their heads over the fence, sticking his head through the gate into our back yard to eat our lawn, coughing up phlegm and spiting it on my shoes (he's allergic to dust, pollen, bugs, other horses, air, exercise, and happiness), grumbling and neighing at me every time I come out of the house (day or night) to try and get me to feed him, and figuring out how to open gates and jump over barriers to get into the feed room.
He grumpy. He's cantankerous. He's middle-aged. But he's also incredibly smart. He's the kind of grumbly old guy who you shake your head at, and pretend to be mad at -- but secretly, you kind of like that he's an ole grouch.

Photo by Alana Harrison

This is Pepper. He spends most of his time trying to eat Stetson's left over scraps, chewing with his mouth open and spewing grain in a 10 foot radius, sniffing and nibbling your clothes, trying to play over the fence with the curious neighbor horses, sticking his head through the gate to try and sniff and nibble the dogs, running away from us when we come out of the barn on a cold night with his blanket, coming up to the fence for a pat every time I come out of the house (day or night), and figuring out the most circuitous route to his hay in avoidance of Stetson.
He's sweet, curious, and jumpy. He's a silly teenager. He spends a lot of time trying to decide, "Am I afraid of that? Or interested in it?" He makes me laugh as one minute he's snuggling, and the next he's running away kicking up dust.

Every once and while, we'll interrupt the glamorous every day lives of these horses, and put a saddle on them. That was our plan when we dreamed-up a romantic horseback ride and picnic. I was pretty excited. I mean, MAN, this was going to be roMANtic! I was already story-boarding in my head the Harlequin romance I was going to pen based on our sunset ride and horderves. The original plot involved the aforementioned sunset, a leisurely horseback stroll during which Tanner and I intertwined fingers and blew kisses, cheese and crackers and other goodies fed to each other on a cozy blanket as our horses munched grass and our dogs gazed at butterflies looping through the air, and a bunch of other mooshy "chocolate-bearing-cowboy take me away" scenarios.

The finialized, post-reality-edited story line... yeah, a leetle different.

More to come.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deep, Dark Confessions

You date someone for four years, and you think you know them well. And then, you get married, and then, then, they reveal things about themselves you could have never imagined. Things, that if you had known before you got married, would have changed it all.

Today Tanner told me one of those things. One of those truths that makes you question everything.

"Sometimes, when mom would buy Oreos, but we would run out of milk, I would dunk them in water."


You think you know someone, but you really don't.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things Girls Do: Pillow Talk

Girls like pillows. And lots of 'em. I'm no exception. I love a bed full of plush pillows. I'll stack those suckers half-way down the length of the bed. Why? HELLO! They look pretty. Even though I only get to enjoy their beauty for the 5-10 minutes I spend standing in my room while I change clothes before bed, that's reason enough. And, the few times I have the luxury of extra time to read for pleasure (GASP!), or on the rare occasion when Tanner refuses to forfeit the living room TV (cuz they only play Waterworld every 5 hours), those pillows are the perfect cushion and back-prop while reading or vegging-- how I love cuddling in a cocoon of pillows.

I finally got the European-sized pillows to go inside the remaining shams, fulfilling our darling decorative pillow family that came with our comforter set.The morning after Pillowpalooza 2009, something shocking happened. I discovered it when I came home from work. Tanner, who gets up after I've already left the house, had made the bed, excessive pillows and all. He didn't even make a comment about the new additions to the family. And then......

it never happened again.

Those pillows, as light and fluffy as they are, quickly broke his will to bed-make. I'm obsessive about a made bed -- if makes me feel at peace and complete. I don't like getting into an unmade bed. So, I politely informed Tanner, "It would mean a lot to me if you would make the bed before you left. I'll start feeding the horses in the morning (a chore he doesn't like) if it would help." [Tanner:] "Ummm, how about I just get up and out of bed before you leave so you can make the bed. I'll keep feeding the horses." [Me:] "But you'd have to get up, like, a hour earlier than you do now!" [Tanner:] "Yeahhh, that's fine."

Pillows? Yea, well, now Tanner thinks they're kinda dumb, "We just take them off every night." Sigh.

Should We Lie To Our Spouse?

Should you manipulate the truth for the "betterment" of your marriage?

Semi-recently, a newsletter from one of the newlywed forums I'm a member of (The Nest) send me an interesting article (sometimes it takes me a while to read all those newletters, but for some reason I save them OCD-style in little folders until I find the time). This article from The Wall Street Journal suggests that "fibs and feints and little white lies that serve as a social salve and help a relationship run smoothly" might help the survival of our marriage.

So you can get an idea of the types of lies considered "helpful," here are the fibs mentioned in the article:
  • A wife who brings newly-bought clothes into the house in a dry cleaner's garment bag
  • A wife who dumps take-out into pots on the stove before the hubby arrives home
  • A wife who pockets the $ her hubby gives her for a house cleaner and cleans the house herself
  • A wife who dropped a diamond earring her hubby gave her down the drain, but said the earrings just hurt her ears to much too wear
  • A hubby who promised he wouldn't trim the trees, did anyway, and colored over the white stump with a brown marker
  • A wife who hid her husband's unsightly t-shirts with cut-off sleeves
  • Hubbies who fibbed about how much they drank at a party, how fast they drive, whether they find their wife's female friends attractive, how much they like their significant other's cooking or outfits, etc.
So why lie? The main reasons mentioned in the article are (1) to avoid conflict and (2) to protect your spouse/be kind. Other reasons include to save face and to gain approval.

(1) My wife asked if I would walk the dogs but I played X-Box all day instead so to avoid an argument, I'll cover the dogs legs in mud and give them a tranquilizer so they look tired.
(2) My wife's lima bean stir fry makes me throw up in my mouth, but I'll tell her it's the best thing I've ever eaten because I don't want to hurt her feelings.
(1&2) I hate the way my husband dresses, so instead of telling him and arguing about it and hurting his feelings, I'll hide all his clothing in a hole in the backyard.

Maybe I'm naive because I'm so early into the game, but I'm not sure I see the benefit of the above white lies, or ones like them. Many may act as quick conflict diffusers and are even amusing at times, but from my perspective (duh, this is my blog), they can also mask a deeper issue at hand. I don't like fighting or sharing difficult truths, but I'm under the impression that addressing conflicts big and small, and being honest in love and with good intentions will do more good for the survival of my marriage. Also, I'm horrible at lying, even when I'm trying to do it as a joke, so if my marriage's survival depends on it, then I'm dead and buried.

Instead of dumping take-out in pots, deceiving my husband into believing I cooked it in order to gain his approval, I'd like to be in a relationship where I can be secure enough to tell my husband I suck at cooking. Sometimes I won't feel like doing it, so we'll eat TV dinners. I'll also try my best to get better at it -- hey, lets cook together to make it more fun, even if it turns out tasting like a glucosamine dog tablet (I recently tasted one of these by accident, so I know how disgusting they are). If my husband makes me feel insignificant because I'm not good at something, or if I'm insecure and feel the need to earn his love by impressing him, or if we have spousal role expectations that we don't see eye to eye on, those are issues that I'm not sure a white lie band aid will heal very well.

And the whole lying so you don't hurt someone's feelings thing, the flag that's always flown to prove that sometimes it's OK to lie,
not sure I can solute those shorts. "I can't tell my wife she looks fat in those jeans, so I just say she looks nice." Hey wife, instead of trapping your husband in an akward situation, why don't you get to what's really on your mind. You feel insecure because you've gained weight. You're not happy with your body. You're not sure if your husband is still attracted to you. You husband doesn't complement you as much as you'd like. You are looking for significance in the wrong places.

If so, work out and eat healthy, pray, tell your spouse you need him to show you affection more often, whatever. But don't force him into a situation where he has to lie to you so you can get a temporary band aid on a deeper issue. What if you don't have alterior motives, and you're really sincerely asking your husband how you look in a certain outfit, because it matters to you -- then, I'm guessing you want an honest answer! Upon my asking, Tanner's honestly told me before that skinny jeans and flats isn't his favorite look, but that I always look beautiful to him, no matter what I'm wearing. And you know what, I believed him on both accounts. And, I still wear my skinny jeans anyways, because I like them. But now I tuck them into boots, because honestly, he was right, they look better that way.

I guess my point is, there's usually a deeper issue at hand requiring a lie. And often times, it's because we're being selfish or prideful in some way, because we have unhealthy insecurities, or because we're ashamed. And besides, getting in the habit of being untruthful in small ways, sounds like a gateway drug to bigger lies (I've been watching too much of the TV show Intervention).

Obviously, I'm sinner with the best of them and far from perfect. One time, when we were dating, I told Tanner that I had cut my dad's hair before, because I really wanted to cut Tanner's hair, and was afraid he wouldn't let me if I confessed I'd never done it. He let me, and luckily it turned out well. I confessed, a year or so later. Even though I'm terrible at it, I still catch myself lying at times. Usually pulling the "Nope, nothing," when Tanner asks if something's wrong. I've learned, at least for us, that it's better to just answer truthfully. And I think it's made our marriage better.

I'm curious to know you're thoughts, even if you disagree with me -- don't you lie and tell me I'm right so you won't hurt my feelings now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eats

In honor of our new (lywed) Thanksgiving, I decided to try out some new recipes to test on the in-laws. (I really should use my own parents as guinea pigs, since they have to love me no matter what, even if I poison them with un-tested recipes. Maybe I'll just tell the Haynes that Tanner made anything I bring to their house... that way they'll pretend to like them even if they're seriously janked up...) Anyways, these particular recipes were a hit. The cake was moist and had a delicious spice to it -- the very essence of the holidays. And the spinach was cheesy and rich. Mmmmmm... I love Thanksgiving left overs!

Best-Ever Pumpkin Cake
(original recipe from Kirsten, posted here on her awesome parenting blog)

1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin [Erin's note: Yeah, I accidentally used 30oz pumpkin pie mix, added the sugar and oil, and had a slippery, sugary, slop that I put in the refrigerator after I realized what I had done... I have hopes of resurrecting the sacrificial pie slop into something edible when I get back from Eldorado.]
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar and oil. Add eggs; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, spices and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into two round pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake tests done. [Erin's note: I had to bake the cakes longer to get them to set in the middle. I took them out of the cake pans so they wouldn't burn on the edges, wrapped them in foil except for the middle, and cooked an additional 10 minutes.]

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons milk
Chocolate shavings

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar; mix well. Add milk until frosting reaches desired spreading consistency. Frost cake. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Eat until you're sick.

Spinach Madeline

2 packages frozen chopped spinach
4 Tbl. butter
2 Tbl. flour
2 Tbl. chopped onion
1/2 cup reserved spinach liquid
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Red pepper and salt to taste
6 oz. Jalapeno jack cheese, cubed
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the spinach according to package directions. Squeeze and drain the spinach, and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth (but not brown). Add onion and cook until soft, 4-5 minutes. Slowly add reserved liquid and evaporated milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until smooth and thick. Add the seasonings and cheese. Stir until cheese has completely melted. Combine with cooked spinach and stir until blended.

With a plastic spatula, scrape the spinach mixture into a large baking dish. Optional: Top with breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned on top and bubbling around the edges.

A New(lywed) Spin on Thanksgiving

This will be the first Thanksgiving in 25 years that I have not spent with my family. I'm sad. And, I'm excited. Can you be both?

I knew this was coming. When you get married, you have two sets of parents, both who want to see you over the holidays. You and your spouse are the chew toy that two lock-jawed pit bulls are fighting over. Well, not really, our parents are more like harmless Lab puppies lazily playing with a toy, with one happily giving up when he rolls over and discovers an equally interesting dust bunny.

Both our parents invited us to Thanksgiving festivities. We tried thinking of a way to see both, and make both family celebrations work -- I was not quite ready to give up on the idea of seeing my parents on Thanksgiving, as I had for my entire life. But, after realizing that the amount of driving and time wasted in the car just didn't make sense, we decided to visit the Haynes family, since the Sullivans are coming to visit our house for Christmas. My parents lovingly understood, bellied up, and started playing with the other dust bunny, my sister.

So, we are headed today to Eldorado for my first Thanksgiving with Tanner's family and our first real holiday as a married couple (no offense, Halloween and Veteran's Day). Like I said, I'll be missing my family, but I am also very excited and looking forward to my first experience as a "real" Haynes at a real Haynes family holiday get together. I'm not just the girlfriend tagging along, I'm a real part of the family. I think it will make the fact that I'm a married woman seem even more real (I know, this should have sunken in by now). The food will be different, the traditions, the house, the faces I see, but I know the feeling will be the same as the one I've always felt: warmth, love, thankfulness, and happiness. And Tanner and I have a LOT to be thankful for -- each other, our new marriage which has changed and blessed our lives, and the loving and selfless families we've each been adopted into.

For you married folks, I'd love to hear how you handled holidays as newlyweds, and what the experience was like for you. I know this is going to be the first of many wonderful Thanksgiving with the Haynes. I'm looking forward to the new experience, and willing to take with it all it brings -- the happiness and the longing. I think it will make me appreciate my new AND old family more than I have before.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Date Night! Newlyweds Leave the Nest.

The thing about my office is, there's only three of us there. Because it's an intimate group, the work environment is pretty laid back. For example, we bring our dogs to the office. The casual circumstances also mean I don't dress up for work -- AT ALL. My daily attire usually consists of jeans, a top, sweatshirt, Crocs/flip flops, and a ponytail.

For some reason, after returning from my single-life reunion the other weekend, I woke up Monday and got all dressed up. I had purchased some new sweaters at Kohls before I left for the weekend in College Station, and I'm one of those people who wants to wear the new clothes I buy the very next day. So, I got all gussied up: new belted sweater, skinny jeans tucked into some black boots, and my nice black wool winter coat. I even straightened my hair and wore it down. I had no reason to look decent, just felt like it. (Maybe I was inspired by all the single girls in College Station, who still take the time to make themselves look presentable!) I even thought as I was going out the door, "Man, why am I wasting this cute outfit today? I should have saved it for a day when I had a doctor appointment, or something, so at least someone would see it!"

As it turned out, the outfit was not wasted. Tanner called me at work, and told me he had been missing me. We were both gone all weekend, and the week before he had been working until 9 or 10 each night. My sweet guy then asked me if I'd like to go out to dinner at one of our favorite local Italian joints in Weatherford, Pastafina. I was so happy. 1) It's always good to feel like you've been missed, and to know someone thinks about you when you're not there. 2) It's great to have something special to look forward to during the work day. 3) My cute outfit would be appreciated. 4) I love carbs.

The thoughtfulness didn't end there. When I got home, Tanner surprised me with flowers! What a guy. We had a great night, just chatting and eating and being together. Who says the romance has to die when you get married?

A happy newlywed, glowing over flowers and a dinner date!

Mr. Thoughful himself.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Single-Life Reunion

Sometimes I miss old seasons in my life. "Miss" might not be the right word, or maybe it is. I don't miss old times because I'm not happy where I currently am in life, or not looking forward to my future. I miss them because they were special and memorable. It's just a sense of nostalgia, a fondness for a time in my life that was wonderful. For instance, I had an amazing childhood. All of my creativity was born during my little girl days playing "imagination" in my childhood home -- a historic house on Arlington Street in the Heights of Houston, a place that felt more a fairy land than a regular old house in a regular old neighbourhood. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to that season of my life, be a little girl again just for a moment, to relive the innocence, the laughter, the magic, and feeling that anything's possible.

I also miss my single-life days in College Station. Particularly when I was working on my masters degree. I was living by myself for the first time, had my own horse in my own backyard, and had a wide-open schedule (as you often do in college) to do the things I wanted -- I just had to fit in my school work here and there. I was working as a barn sitter at a place that became my escape from the hustle and bustle, and also working at a lakeside bar where I raked in tons of money and spent my evenings watching the sunset while I made drinks and chatted with people. I made wonderful new friendships working at that bar, The Hook. I met one of my closest friends, Colby, and worked with another one of my best friends, Jennifer. I was blessed with many other friendships as well, and had way too much fun singing, dancing, and blowing fire behind the bar with Colby, Jennifer, and Sarah.

Last weekend, Tanner headed to the deer lease with his best buddy Scott, and instead of resigning myself to the lonely life of a deer widow, I decided to have a little single-life reunion while attending Chris and Leslie's wedding. Chris was my boss at the Hook, and I knew there'd be a great collection of old friends celebrating his marriage. So, I packed up my stuff, shacked-up in Colby's apartment (she's also living by herself for the first time -- it's such a fun adventure), and pretended to be a single college girl again (well, minus the flirting with and dating other guys).

Leslie and Chris were married at 7 F Lodge, in College Station. It was beautiful, romantic,
quaint, and outdoor-chic. Here is the chapel and Colby posing by the reception hall. She's wearing a hot little number we bought that day at Target -- the budget-friendly but fabulous store for college girls!

The old gang (clockwise): Colby, Sarah, and I; Laurie and I; the gang with the
bride and groom; the girls dancing just like old times!

The chapel at night -- if this isn't romantic, I don't know what it! I was missing
my husband right about this time...

I capped off my weekend as a single girl by visiting my sister, Kathleen, for breakfast at her house in Snook. She cooked up a mean batch of french toast and breakfast fries, which I gobbled up while chatting with her and her boyfriend, Zach. I always love going out to her house in the country -- the quietness and space of the Brazos Valley is something Tanner and I really miss living up here in N. Texas. It's a shame I didn't take any pictures at Kathleen's, because it was really one of the highlights of my weekend.

By the time I was enjoying a scenic drive on some back roads taking me to I-35, I was ready to ready to return back to my newlywed nest. The weekend was great, and it was so fun to relive the old days. But I love my husband, and we're living a new season of our lives right now, one that we'll look back on 10 years from now with fondness and nostalgia, so I'm gonna soak up every minute and enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bed That Ate the World

Our first big purchase, and I mean BIG purchase as a married couple was our new KING-size bed. It was clearly evident from the start that Tanner's bed from college was not going to be good for our marriage. As I described earlier, Tanner can cause quite a commotion at night, striking all kinds of poses at my expense. Not only was the double bed too small to provide me a buffer, it sagged in the middle, forcing me to roll towards center, funneling me directly into the line of fire.

In reality, Tanner's crazy episodes are more infrequent occurrences than regular happenings, but space was still a priority for me when it came time to consider a new bed. Despite being abnormally affectionate and wanting constant physical contact for the 17 hours I'm awake (if Tanner would carry me in a BabyBjorn, I'd be totally happy), at night, I really don't like to be touched while I'm actually sleeping... at all. Cuddling while slumbering, no thanks. A cold toe brushing my leg, please no. A good bed-time snuggle while watching TV or chatting pre-sleep is cozy and lovely, but when it's time for REM, it's time for personal space. It sounds harsh, bitter, cold-hearted, I know -- but please believe me, I make up for it with uber-cuddling and mega-hugs and kisses at all other times.

SO, after much discussion and debate and back-and-forth about whether to buy a queen or a king, we settled on a king. One of our main priorities was finding one that would alleviate some of the back pain Tanner has each morning. After looking first at memory-foam mattresses, and then realizing a king would cost the same as a small yacht, we picked a Simmons, with individually-wrapped coils and a 4-inch layer of memory foam on top.
When the delivery men brought that sucker home and plopped it in our bedroom, Tanner and I pulled out the drafting paper and pencils and began designing an elaborate layout of catwalks and bridges to navigate through the room since it had been SWALLOWED by the blob bed.

Spanning the great divide.

I jest. We have a large master bed room, so the thing fit in there, but it is gigantic. I've appreciated the extra sleeping space and have been getting some nights of heavy, uninterrupted slumber. But, strangely enough, the bed has actually made me a bit more of an affectionate sleeper. With all this acreage to sleep in, I'm so spatially distant from my hubby -- I look to my side, over the fence, and a mile down the road, and there he is sleeping on the other side. At times, it's made me feel a little lonely and isolated, and I've actually found myself creeping through the neutral country, into the hostile territory, just to check in and see what's up. But... just like a traveler, I find myself thinking, "This place is nice to visit, but there's no place (and no sleep) like home." It's back to my side, and my antisocial, wonderful sleep.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm SO Matronly

I've been a bridesmaid once, at my bestfriend Summer's wedding to Tanner's bestfriend Andrew. (Because the world totally revolves around us, I'm sure this is how they introduce themselves to others, "Hi, I'm Erin's best friend and this is Erin's husband's bestfriend, who also happens to be my husband.") A couple weeks ago, I was an "attendant" in a wedding for my second time, in one of my dearest friend Jennifer's wedding.

Since I'm now a married woman, I guess I was what you would call a bridesmatron. According to various dictionaries, a matron is
(1) a married woman who is mature and staid or dignified and has an established social position
(2) a woman who has charge of the domestic affairs of a hospital, prison, or other institution
(3) a woman serving as a guard, warden, or attendant for women or girls, as in a prison
(4) a female animal kept for breeding

I would like to claim that I'm dignified and mature, but you'll have to ask Jenni if my behavior reflected that at her wedding. I did give a semi-dignified speech, but I also wore my hair in a side ponytail, boogied shamelessly on the dance floor, and suggested Jennifer wear a white, decorative bird in her hair -- so that might have counteracted any maturity points I scored. Obviously I don't work at a hospital or prison, although sometimes I think I might be admitted to either. As for the last one, let's not even go there -- there will be no breeding, human or animal, at the Haynes household anytime soon. So, all in all, I might not be so matronly. I guess I was more or less a bridesmaid who happened to be married.

Whatever I was, I had an amazing weekend, and it was so wonderful to see Jennifer and her soul mate, Ryan, become husband and wife. This lovestruck couple is two of the most devoted people I've seen -- they will be together forever, I'm sure of it.

I rode down to the wedding with Michelle, Jenni's sister, and her son Hayden.
Jenni LOVES her nephew, and I can't wait to see what a wonderful mother she'll be (someday soon??).

Christi is Ryan's sister, and was also one of Jenni's bridesmaids. She's an amazing woman and we spent tons of time together helping Jenni wrap up loose ends and just hanging out. Jenni gained another sweet sister, and I got a new friend in the deal!

THE bird.

Christi, Anna (another bridesmaid and new friend) and I, the morning of the wedding enjoying breakfast with all the girls. We look pretty good for having stayed up till 4:30 AM the night before, and waking up at 7:30 AM! Too much decorating, talking, and program-making to go to bed!

The happy could themselves! Minutes after becoming Dr. and Mrs!

Tanner and I at the reception. I have such a handsome husband! We have a new sense of appreciation for all the planning that goes into a beautiful wedding, and we were happy to just sit back and enjoy the party!

Colby, Jenni, and I all bartended together in college. Now, we're all growing up and moving away. But distance and time haven't torn us apart, it's just made us appreciate each other even more. I love both of these amazing women!

Ryan had everyone rolling on the floor laughing when it was time for him to get Jenni's garter. He's a newly practicing veterinarian, so he whipped out some shoulder-high plastic gloves before, ahem, heading under her skirts for the prized garter.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sleepin' Like a Dog

A lot of women (and some men) complain about their spouse's snoring, and how it keeps them up at night. I'm not one of those women. While my new husband DOES talk/shout/mumble in his sleep, smack me in the face when he rolls over and flops his arm down, knee me in the back when he abruptly draws his legs up into the fetal position, and shoot up to the sitting position in the middle of night and scare me senseless, he DOES NOT snore. But... his dog does.

Yeah, Digger really saws some logs. He doesn't have respiratory problems. It's just that, for some reason, he sleeps with his nose smooshed into his doggie bed -- hence, the snore factor. I've always slept with my pooch in my room -- yes, when I was single I often let him sleep with me in my bed (sorry Mom, I pretty much ignored you when you forbid Happy from sleeping in my bed in Katy). I liked him sleeping in there with me. He kept me company in my lonely apartment, and it just seemed like undeserved punishment to make him sleep out in the living room by himself.

But now, well, one of the dogs is keeping me up some nights with his snozzling. Sometimes, when it's really bad, I get up and reposition his face so he's not suffocating himself. (Like, DUH!) And well, two large dogs and their two large beds is more crowded. And if we were to cruelly banish them to the laundry room or office, they'd at least have each other! There's a part of me that wants them out, but another part that can't stomach it. They're so sweet, and all they want in life is to be near us.

What do y'all do with your dogs when it's time for beddie-bye? Where do they sleep? Will they hate me if I kick them out?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things Boys Do: Boys & Bugs

I'd say it's pretty standard that it's the husband's duty to eradicate the house of bugs -- it's one of the perks of having a guy around (ya know, that and twisting off pickle jar lids). While I'm not particularly terrified of any specific bug, I definitely do not like them, and I definitely call for Tanner to come and deal with them. There is one caveat, I insist on a short, relatively painless death, or catch and release if it's in the house. I don't like to see any creature suffer even if it is a black widow spider. (Yep, I found one of these yesterday, and had Tanner come back and smoosh it with stick after his first attempt, spraying it with wasp spray, left her wriggling and squirming for way too long to be humane.)

Well, Tanner's taken it to a new level with dealing the bugs. We've been having trouble with flies lately. Tanner says they come out after it rains, and it doesn't help that we're surrounded by livestock of all kinds on all sides of our house. (Plus Tanner says I must have been born in a barn because I dawdle around and leave the door open for hours while I go in and out of the house, let the dogs in, etc.) Flies aren't really high up there on the yikes meter, but they are annoying and gross. (I learned in junior high that they regurgitate all over your food while they're eating it.) We don't have a fly swater, so Tanner has developed his own method.

He catches the flies in his bare hand, out of mid-air or by swiping them off the table. And I'm not just talking about big, bumbling, drunk flies, I'm talking about little, darty, speedy guys. And Tanner DOES NOT miss. I think he's failed maybe twice that I've seen in the one month we've been living together. It's incredible. His hands move like lightening. Once he's got them in his fist, he gives them a quick shake to make sure he's got em (and a quick peak to me since I never believe they're really in there), and them BAAM he throws them against the floor, striking them immediately dead. It's bizarre. I mean really bizarre. I have a feeling as this cohabitation journey continues, I'm going to learn a lot more about weird things boys do.

Tanner may be the hunter, but I'm the gatherer.
Here are his victims from the other evening.

Another weird fly-related moment last night. I found one of the little guys had been trapped in the refridgerator, and presumably froze to death. I sat it on the table next to Tanner so he could see how perfectly it had been preserved. And the little bugger came back to life!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moving On? Never!

I've come to find from my own experience and from talking with other newlywed friends that while weeks after your wedding you still think of it as the highlight of the year, the latest greatest thing to happen, the coolest and most exciting thing to talk about, everyone else has MOVED ON.

It's not that your friends weren't touched by the ceremony, you in your dress, and you and your spouses love; didn't have the time of their life at the reception and enjoy celebrating your new marriage till the wee hours of the night; or aren't still incredibly happy and excited for you. They they were, they did, and they are! It's just, life goes on!

Don't get me wrong, I think this is the way it should be. You're wedding was important to everyone there and all those around you who love you, BUT it was exponentially more important and exciting to you. Duh, it was your wedding! There will never be a wedding more magical than your own. I don't care if I were to be invited to Paris Hilton's multimillion $ wedding, I'd still think mine was cooler!

So, am I sad, mad, or otherwise disappointed that there's something new to talk about around the proverbial water cooler? Nope. Perfectly fine with it. Will I move on anytime soon? Nope, sure won't. Self-centered, yep, sorry, just how it is! Don't worry, I won't be blabbering incessantly about my own wedding for years to come, but in the comfort of my new home with my new husband, I will be fondly flipping through pictures, periodically revisiting my journal entries, and always thinking, "Man, that went by too fast. It was the best night of my life. I wish I could do it again!" (Well, and I'll probably reflect periodically on it on my blog, so you might just have to give me that every once and a while.)

For those of you who want to take a couple minutes to join me in a momentary glance back, I've received the video from our photographers of my bridal portraits! It was the first time to put my dress, veil, shoes, jewelry, etc on all together. It was such a fun, special day, and Austin Imagery did an amazing job with the pictures and videos.

View it larger here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cooking for 2

Is definitely not as simple as cooking for one.

Single-girl cooking was great. I could experiment with all kinds of funky, ethnic, vegan recipes and unknown, new ingredients and not have to entertain for a moment the worry "What if this doesn't turn out so well?" If it didn't taste so hot (which sometimes it didn't -- cue memory of tofu stir fry with lima beans -- GROSS), it was a bag of popcorn and a bottle glass of wine.
A standard (eadible) recipe yielded enough food for me to eat several meals and then some. I would freeze extras of my favorite spicy thai peanut curry and enjoy it for up to a month!

Single-girl grocery shopping was a cinch.I knew how much food would last me how long, and usually I only had to go to the grocery store once a month! And how I loved those trips. I knew my local store like the back of my hand, and could quickly pick up all my staples, then wander around looking for deals, extras, and investigating weird Asian fruits. Ahhhh... my food life was so simple.

A week or so ago, Tanner and I made our first grocery outing as a married couple. I had shopped for groceries with Tanner many times before, but this time was different. I wasn't following him around while he picked out frozen pizzas and hot dogs while trying to persuade him to grab a banana or lettuce while he was at it. This time, we were shopping together for our household, and our bounty was supposed to feed the both of us and satisfy us (no lima bean disasters). Suddently, this confident, adventurous foodie was intimdated, big time.

The stores was arranged weird, I didn't know where anything was. Some of the staple items we needed (Santita's corn chips, hello!!) were totally unstocked. In fact, there were many gaping holes on the shelves (I'm guessing this is because we were shopping on a Sunday night?). I didn't come with a shopping list or any recipes in mind, which was no big deal for Super-Shopper-Single-Girl, but was suddenly crippling for Confused-Uncertain-Newlywed. For how many meals-for-two will this bag of frozen broccoli last? Should I get 2? How many protiens should I get? Will Tanner like tofu? Will we have any leftovers for me to take to lunch, or will hungry man eat eat all the extra servings?

Aside from being suddenly befuddled by all these new adjustments and the realization that cooking would never be the same, Tanner was inexplicably hyper that evening, which although very funny, was a little distracting to my yearning-to-figure-it-all-out-in-one-evening brain. I didn't think I'd be this way, but I think at the center of all my worrying, was this huge (unexpected) desire to please Tanner with my cooking and be viewed as a good homemaker in his eyes. I was insecure, "Will he like what I make? Will he be happy? Will I do a good job?"

So, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, instead of harboring my insecurities (I've slowly learned this is not such a great idea), I blurted my fear of marital and culinary failure to my hyper husband dancing down the canned vegetable aisle. In the grocery store and on the way home, Tanner calmed my fears. "This is supposed to be fun! We get to figure all this out by trial and error." Hmmm... I don't mind the trial part, but the error thing, I'm not so good with. I'm a perfectionist, remember! But you know what, Tanner was right (yep, he often is, funny enough). I don't need to figure all this out the first time around. AND, he assured me every meal doesn't have to be a gold-platter meal straight out of The Joy of Cooking. "I enjoy those nights too every once and a while, when you dine on chips and salsa or hot dogs and tortilla. I was a bachelor before I met you, remember???" OK, so I feel the (self-made) burden lightening.

So this perfectionista has been trying to lighten up and find the fun again in the kitchen. Tanner's not judinging me on a scale from 1-30 with 10 pts possible for use of the secret ingredient, 10 pts for plating, and 10 pts for taste. Some meals are gonna be great, and some aren't. Hey, there's always chips and salsa, and my man's OK with that.

As far as our first shopping trip, I think I did OK. I'm not sure I bought enough different vegetables, and I probably should have bought some more ready-made meals (frozen dinners or mac'n cheese) for those nights when I'm too tired to put together a major masterpiece. I should have gotten some smaller portions of different proteins for variety in addition of the bulk bag of chicken breasts. And, I'll just have to resign my self to the idea of follow-up trips in between shopping hauls for items like creamer or chips that we run out of.

If y'all have any tips for cooking for 2, or any grocery shopping strategies, let me know! In the meantime, we'll be figuring it out as we go. OH, and Tanner DOES like tofu :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not Just a Dog Book

I just finished the audio book for A Big Little Life, by well-known author Dean Koontz. I've GOT to recommended this read (or this "listen" in my case), especially (but not just) for dog-lovers. The book is a memoir about Dean's incredibly special Golden Retriever, Trixie, who changed his personal and professional life. Dean writes that Trixie is a dog, but not just a dog. In the same way, this is NOT just another dog book, it's much more. It's heart-warming and laugh-inducing like other dog books such as Marley and Me (although Trixie is NOTHING like Marley), but it also goes further than that; it's is a philosophical look on the wonder and mystery of life, faith, and relationships. It truly inspired me to take a different approach to how I see and explain the things around me. Plus, it's a short read, so enjoy!

A side note from life with our own dogs: A couple days ago Tanner happened to arrive home while I was walking the dogs, running into us (not literally, thankfully )
in his truck as we were walking up the road -- it was a nice surprise and we were all happy to see him. Ever since then, Digger seems to be expecting Tanner to make a guest appearance on all of our walks. Every time he hears an engine running (or exhaust, or whatever it is about vehicles that makes noise when they are going!), even if it's far away on the FM road our street is off of, he gets really excited, wags his tail, and begins looking for Tanner's truck. It's really cute, and I hope someday he's rewarded again.

Nope, sorry Digger, just some random old lady in an SUV. Not EVEN close.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Worst Nightmare

My worst nightmare: nothing is organized, nothing has a "place," I can't find any of my belongings, too much stuff! OK, so I am being a little dramatic, but this picture does not even do justice to the black hole of clutter our house has become since we've unloaded all of my things and all of our new housewares. Every time I walk in the door, I hear that "duh-nuh, duh-nuh" Jaws music!

With me getting used to my lengthy commuting schedule, I haven't quite had the energy to tackle this beast (who's girth has spilled over into every room and hallway in the house) on the weeknights, so it looks we'll be walking through a maze of boxes and banging our shins into coffee table corners at least until this weekend, when Tanner and I will both be home. Since I'm one of the freaks who actually enjoys organizing, I'm really looking forward to this weekend of un-cluttering. It will be interesting to see who gets the bigger closet. Any votes? :)

The only family member who seems not to mind the clutter -- plenty of neat hiding places.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Raining Blessings

On our first weekend back from our own honeymoon, Tanner and I headed back to the Hill Country to attend Tanner's cousin, Michele's, wedding to her long-time love, Brian! It seems that all everyone has been talking about for forever is how badly that area needs rain. I would be the first to agree, BUT, not on Michele's wedding day!!!

It poured all day Saturday while Tanner and I visited with my parents at the Riverhaus. As we drove to McQueeney for the wedding, even as the thunder rolled, I kept praying for a break in the downpour. It didn't seem like my prayers would be answered as we waited inside the Brian's family lake house with the rest of the guests and watched Michele's friends scurring about in the rain outside, wringing out table cloths, and rescuing table arrangements.

Then, shortly after the wedding was scheduled to start, the rain stopped, and the sun began to slowly peak out from the clouds. Seizing the moment, we all quickly filled the seats and the ceremony began! Michele was a beautiful bride, and she was beaming with happiness as she made it down the wet walkway. It was great to see these two lovebirds united, especially with the new found respect and appreciation, and new perspective I have on marriage -- being a beaming newlywed myself now. The celebration afterwards was a blast. Tanner's immediate family (my family now too!) were all there, and I also got to spend time getting to know Bob and Linda, Gene and Alona, and all of Tanner's cousins. It barely sprinkled again the whole night.

They say rain is good luck on a wedding, bringing lots of children to the couple. If it's true, Michele and Brian better get started on their nursery! Whether the luck is true or not, this weekend brought blessings and memories to all involved, as well as to the rain-hungry land! (The river was nearly up to the stair landing by the time we left Sunday.)

Stacy and Tanner before the reception. Tanner has that Meyers loook for sure!

Michele and Brian

Stacy with Mindy, the beautiful bridesmaid and cousin to the bride.

All the tough Haynes and Sellers men.

Michele and Gene, and Stacy and Mike on the dance floor.

The Haynes!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Day that Began a Lifetime

The day has come and gone, but what it signified is now locked in my heart forever and is my blessed everyday existence. Love, commitment, intimacy, oneness before God: marriage! I am Mrs. Erin Haynes and we are THE HAYNES.

Just as everyone warned would happen, the celebration seemed to fly by. The cherished moments seemed to rush too quickly past! I think it's impossible to avoid that feeling -- when you're having the best time of your life, you want everything to last forever. It truly was the most wonderful day I've experienced.

It was an wonderful, indescribable feeling to be surrounded by such love -- our love for each other as newly "crowned" husband and wife, the love from our families, and the love from our friends. We were deeply touched that so many people we care about chose to attend and shower us with support, encouragement, and sincere love. I was deeply humbled when dear friends thanked us for including them. The honor was all ours, and we were so built up and strengthened by everyone.

I know we wish we could have spent more time with each and every person who was there that day. They were too short, but every conversation was a gift and a dear blessing. It's really impossible, there's not enough words, to explain how joyful it was seeing all those faces and speaking with everyone.

I'm working on a play-by-play (with pictures) of the wedding and events leading up to it, as well as a detailed recap of our vacation (no pics of me in a coconut bra, I promise). I realized today that I desperately want to write everything down while it's still fresh on my mind, so that will probably be the focus of the next few posts. I know it's probably endlessly more interesting to us, since it was our special day. So, after the next few posts, I promise there'll be more variety!

Our ultimate goal for this blog is to share our new adventure as husband and wife with our families and friends, as well as to document for ourselves important milestones and everyday moments (there's always a self-serving factor!). We'll share our goings-on and our thoughts, and hope it will be an easy way for everyone to keep up with us, the Haynes, as we make our stand in Weatherford, the Peach Capital of Texas.


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