Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not So Breaking News Flash

September 2011, I received some news. Two lines on an early pregnancy test I took at 5 a.m. (That equals PREGNANT, for those wondering.)

We had been trying since April. During that time, I had dreamed of the elaborate, sentimental, meaningful way I might reveal a positive pregnancy to Tanner. Some kind of greeting card to Dad. A father and child figurine or bronze. A fortune inserted in a fortune cookie. An interpretive dance to "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King.

But when those two pink lines materialized, that all went out the window. Boom! Bathroom door flew open. Light flooded our bed and pierced Tanner's previously peacefully slumbering eyeballs.

"Tanner! I'm pregnant."

Not the romantic scene I had envisioned, but, still, memorable. Anyways, a lot has happened since then. I'm 15 wks, or 4 months, pregnant. A lot of the expectations I had for my pregnancy -- just like expectations for life in general and for this blog, for example -- went out the window when an insane work schedule and overwhelming morning sickness simultaneously took over my life. The journaling, pregnancy-book reading, prenatal yoga-ing and all the other plans I had imagined for my ultimate, total, PERFECT (that's reasonable) pregnancy experience sort of melted into a puddle of... well, you can imagine.

Now, things have started to slow down at work, and as I've entered my second trimester (weeks 15-27 or months 4-6), I've found myself with some extra time and energy to do so many of the things I had hoped I would do during my first pregnancy.

Exercise. A four-mile walk seems like the ideal first pregnancy workout after weeks of vomitting and laying immobile on the couch/bed/floor/back of my truck, right? I had a great walk with the dogs, but was amazed at how out of shape I felt! It's amazing that just months earlier I could run three times that distance without stopping! This time, I had to pack a backpack of snacks and water and stop at every since bench on the trail to rest. I felt embarrassingly sore the next day. OK, I'm still sore four days later.

Journal. Over Christmas, my mom brought the baby book and keepsake box she kept during her pregnancy with me. I remember loving to go through these things when I was little – flipping through pages of Mom's belly photos, news paper clippings (Splash was the top movie the day I was born!) and notes and pulling out the envelopes with my first tooth and lock of hair. I still love reading all she wrote in her beautiful cursive handwriting. It reminded me that, not only am I a writer and crave writing about my memories, feelings, thoughts, and experiences, but also what a treasure it will be for our child to someday read these things. I also received a pregnancy journal from out neighbor that helped jump start my own writing. I'm not going to waste any time feeling guilty about all the weeks of writing I missed out on. Instead, it's full steam ahead from here. Bring on the belly photos and documentation of every burp, baby movement and emotional meltdown!

Reading. An extended vacation between Christmas and New Years gave me some treasured time to catch up on my pregnancy-related reading – much if it I did camped out by our neighbor's pond with the dogs exploring nearby. (As the distant, non-stop whine of Tanner's tin cutter lulled the neighborhood into a dream sleep/roaring headache.)

Despite being slow to the trigger on lots of my preggo plans, there was ONE dream I held true to. A few days after I found out I was pregnant, I wrote a letter to Baby Haynes. I happened to write it on here and save it. And this is that letter:

Dear Baby,

I am so thankful to be writing to you right now. I want to say that I can't believe it. But I do believe. I believe God is greater than I can imagine. I believe He blesses me beyond measure. I believe He never forsakes me. And I believe He heard my prayers, my prayers for you! Baby, I have been praying for you for months. Before you were born, before you were even conceived, I loved you with all my heart. And I can tell you right now, before I've even met you, before you've taken shape, I will love you forever. There is nothing you can do to stop me from loving you.

Right now, you're only the size of a poppy seed. This will be hard to imagine once you are here and in our arms. Even now, as you're just a tiny ball of cells, God has numbered your days. He has a plan and a purpose for you. For that reason, I can carry you and embark on this pregnancy without fear or worry. My God has this all under control. He will work all things to bring glory to Himself and to be for my good, because He loves me. I pray that you will receive Him in all His grace and love, and seek His will for your life. I will always pray this for you.

Your Dad and I have been trying to get pregnant since about April. At that time, God helped us to realize some important truths in a deeper way. First, not one day is promised, and second, while we're here on earth, life is all about relationships, and some of the most treasured are with our family. We realized that we had enjoyed a year and a half of marriage together, a season for ourselves to spend time together loving life as husband and wife, but we were ready to live for more than just ourselves. We were ready and eager to start a family, to experience that blessing and enjoy that one-of-a-kind relationship. We were ready to pour our lives and our love into a child. We had no more fear of, "What will life be like? Can we handle the change? Will we be able to do the things we used to enjoy with a child in tow? Are we ready?" Instead, our hearts and minds changed and we were ready for you! And now you're on your way. I love you so much already.

For several months, we tried to conceive. At first, this was a very enjoyable process, especially for Dad. (Someday you will be old enough to think this is TMI and superly, seriously gross.) Five months passed, and we did not conceive, but people all around me were getting pregnant like rabbits. I started to to feel frustrated. God reached out to me through prayer time on my long runs (I was training for a half-marathon). I realized that God's will was my true desire. Looking at other people and longing to experience what they were experiencing was NOT my calling. That was God's will for their life, not mine. I realized that I craved His plan for my own life. I would never be fulfilled seeking a plan other than God's. Although I still had moments of struggle, He gave me a great peace, a peace like I have never experienced before. And then, after I turned over my plans to Him and trusted Him, He gave me you!

My mom and dad came up to visit last weekend to help us work on the house and to (belatedly) celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary. I took an early pregnancy test before they got here, and it was negative. We had a great weekend walking the dogs (your "brothers," Happy and Digger), running errands around town, going out to lunch at Yesterday's in Weatherford and dinner at Eddie V's in downtown Fort Worth, going to church and getting supplies and getting started on the wood planks for the ceiling. I talked with Mom about how I was not able to get pregnant yet, and she told me that she and Dianne had been praying for me. Mom and Dad left on Monday morning, and Wednesday morning, on a whim, I took another test. It was positive! I was so used to seeing that one line, that when I saw the second one developing, I started shaking. I burst from the bathroom, throwing an unwelcome beam of light on your Dad's face, and told him, "Tanner, I'm pregnant!" He said simply (and groggily), "Are you really?" And it went from there. All the way on the way to work, I thanked God for you. My prayers were answered.

I told a couple best friends, also mothers, who are already lifting you up and helping me by giving my pregnancy information. I'm not supposed to eat lunch meat?? Weird. Next, we will tell your Grandma and Grandpa Haynes and Sullivan and Mindy and Tye and Kathleen. I know you will be a blessing to our whole family. Your very existence will bring so much joy. Baby, you are already surrounded by such love.

For now, we are going to keep working away on our fixer-upper home. Getting it ready for your arrival in June of next year! We have a lot to do. New floors, new ceiling, new bathroom, kitchen, everything! But the thing that truly makes a house a home is already there -- love.
For now, I'm feeling different. I don't know if it's the power of suggestion, or what, but I feel VERY tired. The baby website Jenna told me to check out says you are the size of a poppy seed, well I feel like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz after she ran through the field of poppies. (Kathleen will make sure you know this reference very well).

Just remember, Baby, the depth of love your Dad and I have for you, as strong as it is, it pales in comparison to the love of God. We can love you only because He first loved us. And He loves you, His precious creation, so much!


Your Mom!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Say What?

This blog has not quite been what I've imagined it would be. I thought I would keep my family and friends posted on our wildly exciting and entertaining lives as newlyweds (and possibly entertain hapless strangers who stumble upon this website) at least on a weekly basis, maybe even more frequently. I also thought it would serve as a digital diary for us and our future clan of 2-8 children (that is either two-point-eight or two-to-eight, depending on who you ask).

Instead, it's been a proverbial catch-all bib (you know, the rubber ones with the little pocket scoop on the bottom) for my random life-update, recipe-detailing, run-documenting, story-telling and opinion-sharing vomit. The word-spewage has been much like a stomach bug -- unpredictable, My posts have ranged in frequency from once every four months to several within a few days' time. The blog is far less painful and unpleasant than a stomach bug, although it has felt like an unwelcome burden at times. It is, albeit, a burden I signed up for. But it's kind of like that yellow curry that at the time sounded like it would be great followed by chocolate ice cream and and wine and the Boy Scout brand cheesey popcorn... not so much.

Really, I like blogging, but I'm infrequent. There have been lots of adventures over the past two years I'd have liked to chronicle, old stories I'd like to tell, delicious recipes, home improvement projects and running progress I'd like to share and deep thoughts I'd like to bestow. I have lots of great ideas, but I simply lack time. Blogging goes to the bottom of the to-do list after a full day of writing for my magazine at work.

I vacillate between backtracking and logging all the vacations, dates, milestones and STUFF (possibly in private posts, to spare you the horror) or just starting fresh and doing better from this point on. But I've recently reached a LONG OVERDUE epiphany that needs to be sorted out before I can commit to anything, or even move off of this couch, really. Good thing I poured a very full glass of wine

My epiphany is: I cannot be a full-time journalist, ride horses, train for a marathon, keep an organic vegetable garden, maintain a blog, landscape our house, make a quilt, cook new recipes, do yoga, clean house like a German maniac, train a gun dog and remodel our house all a the same time. I canNOT do it all, and I feel like the little girl who's meanie-butt parents are forcing her to choose EITHER ballet or horseback riding, but NOT both. How rude!

As I ponder my life's course through a minefield of hobbies, I leave you with some profound images.
Yes, that is a fever blister that looks like a soul patch.

About to get creamed in dodge ball.

My Periodic Table of Elements shirt, signed by Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Radioactive elements glow in the dark. Duh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eldorado: The Place to Be!

I would like to tell you more about the West Texas town of Eldorado, where Tanner was born and raised.

Let’s start with the facts. Eldorado is the county seat of Schleicher County. Eldorado is the only town in Schleicher County. Eldorado is the best town in Schleicher County! Boo-ya!

The town sits at the top of the Edwards plateau (Welcome to Eldorado: Top of the Divide Elevation 2,439!), and it’s surrounded by plenty of beautiful West Texas landscape -- and deer, lots of 'em. The proof is in the bar ditch, on the side of the road, in the middle of the road and on grill guards, in bits and pieces. The proof is also in the hunters who flock there during deer season.

About 1,800 people live in Eldorado. For comparison, my high school in Katy, Texas, has about 1,100 students in each graduating class. But size is not everything. It’s about personality! Or maybe I should say it's about THE personalities. A large part of what makes Eldorado great are the people.

Tanner (left) with Matt, Ross and Andrew

Most of Tanner's childhood friends are still his closest and most loyal friends today. Built on a foundation of shared experiences, faith, heart-to-hearts and plenty of mudding, hunting, bbq-ing, road trips and farting competitions, those friendships that have survived going off to different colleges, getting married, having babies and settling down in various big cities and small towns are priceless. Relationships like those are one of life's greatest treasures, and for Tanner, those treasures began and grew in his home town.

Eldorado Eagles - Class of 2002!

Eldorado was small and safe, so boys could be wild, adventurous and out on their own without parents worrying. It was remote and and surrounded by rugged, beautiful country, so it was the perfect place for hunting, off-road excursions, swimming-hole trips, and camping. It was tight-knit, a real community, so that your friends' parents simply became your second parents, letting you sleepover and raid their pantry, carting you around and cheering you on at games (or complimenting the "interesting" things you made in welding class, in Tanner's and Jason's cases).

Scott (left), Andrew and Tanner head off on a road trip

Growing up in Eldorado was like growing up surrounded by your extended family. It's an extended family that celebrates with you or takes care of you when your struggling. It's a family that follows you even when you leave Eldorado. It's a family welcomes your wives, husbands and children with open arms.

One big family

I love Eldorado because it had a huge part in making Tanner who he is, and I love who he is! Outdoorsy, country, adventurous, fearless, mechanical, tough, fiercely loyal, loving, hard working and with a great sense of humor and passion for life!

I love Eldorado because Tanner's friends became such an important part of my life. My best friend, Summer, introduced me to Tanner after she began dating Andrew, one of Tanner's best Eldo buds. Summer and Andrew got married two years before us, are expecting a baby, and despite the fact that they live in Colorado and we don't see them as often as we'd like, Tanner and I could probably say there are few people on earth we feel closer to. Andrew's mom, Liz, also helped me plan my wedding, and his dad, Andy, married me and Tanner.

Tanner and I with Andrew and Summer

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn't end there or anywhere near it! Tanner lived with Andrew, Jason, Thomas and Scott all through college. The stories of Jason and Tanner together as little boys are hilarious, and those two are so alike, it's scary. Jason and Tanner have inhaled welding fumes side-by-side for years, and now they work side-by-side in the oilfield at the same company! Jason and his wife, Susannah, are two of our go-to people in Weatherford for everything from a fun night out to "Can you please feed the horses?" And we know we even could on Jason's parent's, who live close by, for a favor anytime if needed to.


And now

Although Thomas passed away in 2005, I feel like he is with us both everyday. I can't imagine my life without his family, the Ballew family, in it, and I love popping over to see Ray and Debbie -- and which ever kiddo happens to be in town -- most every time we go to Eldo.

Andrea, Tanner and Thomas in college

With Debbie and Ray at my bridal shower, hosted by the First Presbyterian Church

I could go on an on. From Wesley and Matt meeting us out at the River House whenever we're in New Braunfels to catching up with Jeff and his beautiful new wife, Lori, at Summer's baby shower in Katy to random visits from Tana or facebook-ing with Hallie, the people of this lil' West Texas town have become such a part of my heart.

But that's all from my perspective. And this is supposed to be a newlywed blog. Contrary to how it may appear at times, I am in fact not married to myself. Ha! I have heard COUNTLESS Eldo memories, recollections, tall tales and highly entertaining stories from Tanner over the six years we have been together. On a recent road trip to none other than Eldorado, I got Tanner started on the subject of home sweet home, then pulled out my laptop and transcribed as he talked. I've done it a few time since then, and I'm putting together a nice compilation of Eldorado stories and childhood memories that I plan to share on my our blog.

Be prepared! And keep an eye out for Ye Old Eldorado Stories, because they're good... and the pictures, they're even better!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wild Night

It all began innocently enough. I was taking a casserole and some other things over to a friend's house. The casserole was Mexican Lasagna 2.0. Mexican Lasagna 1.0, an aberration in my carefully balanced ecosystem of procrastination, was sitting happily in the refrigerator back in Eldorado, which I only realized once I was on the road and about two hours outside of Eldorado.

"No problem!" my laid-back, level-headed, don't-sweat-the-small-stuff, keeping-it-all-in-perspective self cheerfully thought -– right after I broke into dramatic, heaving sobs and called Tanner on his cell phone to break the awful news of my terrible predicament.

Anyway, who cares how I got there. The important part is I eventually arrived at, "No problem!" and continued my trip home. I would simply make another casserole that evening and deliver it promptly at 8:30 p.m. as planned.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful, except for the unwelcome onslaught of PPP -- premature pee problem. Why is it that the body decides it reeeeeally need to go to the bathroom about 30 minutes from your destination? You're sooo close. Close enough so that going to the bathroom seems like an epic pain in the butt, a pesky pimple rearing its ugly head 30 minutes before it's time to leave for prom. But you're also far enough away from home to where there is a legitimate threat of going in your pants. To further complicate matters, I have such a guilty conscious that I can't use a convenience store restroom without purchasing something, and at 30 minutes from my stocked, albeit mouse-infested (a story for another day), pantry at home, buying anything seems like a waste of money.

Aaaanyway, lest I digress, I made it to my office in the late afternoon without wetting myself, rushed to the grocery store after work, skiddadled home, made the casserole, and headed out to deliver. After forcing my friend to stay on the phone for ten minutes and give me inch-by-inch directions, I arrived with my goods. I filled my arms and headed into the house, expecting to drop everything off, chat for a bit and then hit the road. After all, I had to get back home and pack for my work trip to Oklahoma the next morning. Well, we got into some great conversation, time flew, and it was after 10 p.m. before I made it back to the truck. I grabbed my phone from the console and saw a text message from Tanner, who was back in Eldorado and asking about medication for the dogs.

"Oh, I'll just give him a ring!" I thought. "I miss him; I want to hear his voice; and my clumsy nubs can't tpye on my iPhone, aywnay."

Ring. Ring. The call connects.


Erin: "Uhhhhh. Hello?"

Turns out, while I was in lala land without my cellphone, an armed burglary occurred across the pasture from our house. Helicopters with search lights were swooping and criss-crossing over our little country road and the pastures around our house and our neighbors' houses. Our neighbors and close friends, Molly and Rob, had called Tanner. Rob's dad, Glen, is our town's constable. He lives next to Molly and Rob and two places down from us. They had heard on the scanner that the suspect was armed, dangerous and on the run. They knew I was home alone, but saw that my truck was gone and all the lights were out.

Long story short, an epic phone chain ensued. Molly called me several times. No luck. Then Molly called Tanner, who called me 2 million times and couldn't get a hold of me. Tanner called a guy to get the number of the friend I was visiting. That guy didn't have the number, but he had the number of a girl who did. Tanner called that girl. She gave him the number and then she also tried to call me a few times. Tanner called the friend I was visiting, but my friend didn't recognize the number. I saw him pick at his ringing phone several times with a puzzled look, then put it down. Tanner left him a couple frantic voicemails, then waited it out.

After two hours of this, I had 4 million missed calls, 3.5 million text messages and a very worried husband. Oops. Well the suspect was still on the run by the time I finally returned to earth, so I decided to go stay with Molly and Rob, who offered me a room for the night. But of course, I needed my toiletries from my house. I had to get up bright and early and catch a ride with Molly to Fort Worth in order to pick up my company truck. No time to dilly dally the next morning. But of course I left my back door unlocked and all my lights off when I went on my errand. Which meant, of course, the constable and his deputy had to search the house before Molly and I went over, just in case the robber had holed up there. Of course, I had left the kitchen dirty and the BRAVO channel on TV and was irrationally paranoid that something horrific like the Real Housewives of Orange County would be blaring at full volume. (For the record, that is NOT what I was watching when I left the house.)

The house, hay shed and Tanner's shop all got a legit search with flashlights and guns drawn as Molly and I waited in the truck. When I heard the deputy report over the scanner that they were searching the house of "lady on such and such Lane who left her door unlocked," I felt an odd mixture of embarrassment for taking up the police's time, gratitude for having the constable as a friend and neighbor, amazement that I was in a police SUV and relief that he didn't mention anything about the dirty pans on the stove, trashy TV blaring in the living room and mice infestation in the pantry.

Despite the hectic chain of events, I got my belongings from my house, and everything ended peacefully around midnight with me settling down to sleep in the borrowed bedroom of Molly's and Rob's 5-year-old son. As I dozed off in a shrine to Thomas the Train, I found myself thinking how nice it was to realize how much Tanner cares about me. Next time, though, I'll orchestrate an easier situation through which he can show his affection.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sweet Stace

I am so blessed to have not only a great mother who birthed me and raised me and filled me up with so much love it spewed out my ears, but also a wonderful mother-in-law who did all those things for my husband and welcomed me into her family like one of her own.

Me and Stacy at my bridal shower

On Mother's Day weekend, Tanner and I went to Eldorado to spend Mother’s Day with Tanner’s mom, Stacy, as well as his dad, Mike, sister, Mindy, and her husband, Tye. Let me tell you something about Eldorado: There is not much to do there. Let me tell you why that is awesome. We end up doing things like piling in bed with Stacy and just talking. We paint each other’s nails, talk about decorating and fashion and do hair (girls only!). We clean gutters, rebuild porch swings and trim trees together (boys only!). We make an event out of going to church. We sit on the porch and chat and pet the cat.

That is, until Tanner gets the cat so riled up that it’s attacking everyone. Nothing makes me laugh and fill with fear at the same time like that crazy look cats get – when they flatten their ears to the side and bug their eyes – right before they jump and wrap their front legs around your tender foot and bite the heck out of your big toe.

Now let me tell you something about Stacy. She’s one heck of a woman. Tanner and his Eldorado crew lovingly dubbed her “Sweet Stace” back in the day. She’s tender and nurturing. She smiles, all the time. She takes time to compliment everyone. She writes thoughtful notes. She sends gift cards and pocket money for no special occasion, just because. She calls for no special reason, just to catch up. She asks thoughtful questions. She listens. She cares – about everyone. She never speaks a bad word about anyone.

Tanner and Stacy at our wedding

She’s also one tough cookie. She brought two children into this world – with no medication! – and is there for them every moment of every day. She faithfully supported and carried her family through trials and struggles without complaint. She made a small house, in the early years, a home, and guided four people to peacefully coexist while all sharing one bathroom. A-ma-zing. She works full time, then in her spare time, she helps with the bible study at the church, volunteers with Lions Club and helps several people manage their rental properties, businesses and finances. Despite this busy schedule, every person she runs across feels like they have her undivided attention.

Stacys also got faith, and God gave her an extra helping. No matter the circumstance, she does not worry or doubt. She is a rock, but a tender one. During the passing of family members, Stacy is the one who comforts everyone. When someone is sick, Stacy cares for them, and she takes care of the things no one else can. She prays for her family, reads her Bible and lives out her faith in ways great and small. She will be the first one to tell you she’s not perfect. No one is; we all know that. But she’s about as close as it gets!

Every day for Stacy should be Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, we don’t always take the time to tell her how much we love her, so that weekend was a great opportunity to do just that! And we loved every minute of it.

Tanner and Mindy with Stacy on Mother's Day 2011!

This last weekend, Tanner and I had another chance to celebrate another woman who’s conquered the world and more, my mom! We visited my parents, enjoyed the River Haus and had another Mother’s Day! More to come...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Runner's Knee

Last Sunday, Tanner dropped my off at the trail head in Weatherford. I was nervous. First of all, because I had decided to wear only a sports bra -- no tank top or T-shirt -- and was worried about my hate love handles bouncin' around and acting a fool. And they did. I watched them as my shadow ran in front of me.

The second reason I was nervous was because I had eaten chicken wings and drank a beer the night before with Andrew and Jenna at Buffalo Wild Wings. My stomach does not like chicken wings and beer. My love handles, however, they need them to survive.

The third reason was because after Tanner dropped me off, I was committed to the task before me: running 10.6 miles of wooded trail from Weatherford to Garner. Get a chicken-wing-induced, three alarm stomach flip flop? Too bad. Get attacked by a wild turkey? So sad. Break both your legs, fracture your arms, get a nosebleed and pop your eyeballs out? Oh well. No cell phone. Deal with it. Finish strong!

Well, I did finish. The first four miles of the trail were fairly busy, much to my chagrin. My overly excited love handles, just happy to be out and about, were wigglin' and jigglin' and waving "Hi, y'all!" to everyone they passed. After Mile 4, the crowd started to thin out.

I had my earphones in and my audiobook playing. It was a beautiful, sunny day. (I have the sports bra tan to prove it!) Reaching Mile 5 was a little bit of a bonk moment, only because it hit me that I was less than half way to my destination. But I knew in reality I could make it at least 8 miles, so I got over it.

At about mile 8, I was lectured by a cute, old cyclist man that Tanner and I have seen frequently on the trail about how I should have brought water with me. He pretty much insisted/forced me to drink some of his water, which ended up really being a nice treat for me because I was super thirsty. He then raced off to Garner and gave Tanner, who was waiting for me at the trail head there, the same lecture.

By Mile 10 my knees were killing me, but I still felt cardiovascularly great. When I saw Tanner waiting for me at the trail head in Garner, I even found a reserve to sprint gloriously to finish. When I was done showing off, I sat down and couldn't get up. Just kidding. Sort of.

I felt great, but I haven't run since then. The pain in my left knee lingered through out the week, and after some research, I'm almost 100 percent positive that I've developed runner's knee. No, this is not a cool, sexy, svelt knee that only the elite running crowd develop. Grossly oversimplified, it's chronic pain resulting from the knee cap not tracking correctly in its groove. There are lots of potential causes listed online that could weaken support around the knee cap or cause it to travel an irregular path, and they read like a checklist of all the reasons I should not be a runner: over-pronation (my feet roll in because they have no arch), wide hips (thanks, German heritage), and poor conformation of the groove the knee cap moves in (should look like a "V", mine looks like an "L" and my kneecap has dislocated three times).

So I took this week off, and hit the trail again this evening for a 6-miler. The knee started out creeky, but didn't give me too much trouble. I'm looking into options to manage/prevent the pain as I go back up in my mileage. Because I'd like run far. Far, far away. From my love handles.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Around the Dinner Table

I am a perfectionist, a neat freak, and control freak.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "Maaaaann, I wish I'd married her. Sounds like a charming, pleasant, laid back kind of gal."

Too bad. You missed your chance.

The upside is I get all our bills paid on time, my editor doesn't have to correct much when I turn in my stories, and you could eat dinner off our kitchen floor.

The downsides, oh, they are like numbering the stars. Or like numbering the June bugs Happy has eaten in the last two day: a lot.


Just one of the downsides is I haven't wanted to have people over to our house until it's finished, just so, perfect. Like, after I scrape all the popcorn off the ceiling, repaint, tear up the 1980's carpet and lay down wood floors, replace the rotting trim, install crown molding, pull up all the weeds outside, hang stuff on the walls and replace all the generic pictures that came in the frames with pictures of our own, fabulous selves.

A week or so ago, our friends Andrew and Jenna invited us over to their house for dinner. It was so sweet, so thoughtful and so old-fashioned hospitable of them! We had such a great time. Jenna made tacos and smores bars, we sat around and chatted and looked at the adorable wardrobe accumulating for soon-to-be-born Baby Borne, and the boys went outside and made fires.

I left thinking, "We have to do this again!" You know, at their cute house. The one with decorations and pictures of people who actually live there in the frames. How many times could we eat there before they would start to wonder if we lived in a van or had 18 cats or really were the couple they thought they recognized on Hoarders.

Then I got to thinking. What we loved about that night with the Bornes was the fellowship, the sharing stories, the laughter, working together, whether in the kitchen or out in the shop. Jenna's home is precious, and she should be proud of it. The comfy surroundings added to the joy of the night, but it wasn't what made it. What truly made it was just being able to be loved on by our friends and enjoy time together. It was the act of Jenna and Andrew welcoming us into their home that warmed our hearts, the fact that the home was adorned so nicely and kept so well by Jenna was just a bonus. Besides, there are probably imperfections Jenna sees in her home that her guests would never notice. (Or, it just makes me feel better to think that.)

So I decided funky carpet, popcorn, junk room and all, I wanted to welcome the Bornes to our home and hopefully give them the same joy they gave us.
So, last night, they joined us at the Haynes house for dinner.

Don't get me wrong, I went into manic mode and cleaned the house from top to bottom the day before they came. Tanner caught a dose of my crazy too. But it was nice to know I was cleaning it not so I could get a gold star on my OCD chart, but to make it welcoming for our friends. Life is to be shared after all! Faults and all, we're proud of our home. I'm proud of how hard Tanner has worked and how fiscally wise he's been so that we could afford this home. Mostly, I'm grateful for God blessing us with this house and such wonderful friends to welcome to it.

We made cheesy tortellini casserole (Tanner's favorite), Jenna brought a delicious spinach salad, and the boys grilled up some monster steaks. Butterscotch cookies warm out of the oven were enjoyed with fresh roasted coffee - Jenna roasted the raw beans that day! Us girls chatted around the dining room table and the boys played outside with Andrew's potato gun. From what I could tell, everyone was comfortable and happy, and no one noticed the creaky floorboard where we hide our collection of embalmed medical specimens.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Sweet Dreams and Beauty Cream

Recently, Tanner has made several comments about my nighttime routine. They go something like this: “What the HECK are you DOING in there?”

The first few times, I answered him literally.
“Well, I’m currently staring at myself in the mirror and sucking in and flexing my “abs” and rearranging my belly and hip pudge so I can get an idea of what I could potentially look like if I stopped eating a pecan praline, four Girl Scout cookies and one square of dark chocolate a day.”

Then I realized he was trying to make a point. I hate it when they do that.

The point being, what could anyone possibly be doing in the bathroom that would take 15-plus minutes?

Eek. Don’t answer that.

What non-toilet-related things could anyone possibly do doing every night that would take that long?

So I got to wondering if my nighttime routine is excessive, or if it is only excessive compared to Tanner’s:

-Take off clothes. (optional)
-Put on shorts. (no comment)
-Turn off lights and pull back sheets. (optional)
-Collapse on bed. (mandatory)

Mine goes something like this:

-Brush teeth (BORING, and does anyone else have such trouble keeping the toothpaste foam from coming out all over their lips?)
-Wash face
-Cringe while removing a cotton pad from the bag – egads! I hate cotton balls and cotton pads and Q-tips – then apply toner
-Apply wrinkle cream to forehead, neck and chest
-Apply eye cream
-Stare into the endless, black abyss of my pores
-Do the blubber rearranging thing

If I remember:
-Put cellulite cream onto unnamed areas. And no, I do not do this while eating a praline.
I wait until I’m done.
-Floss (BORING)
-Use mouthwash (BURNS and BORING)
-Take vitamins and probiotics

-Put on PJs
-Check every door in house 3 times to make sure it’s really locked and click the remote lock on truck keys until the truck horn can be heard CLEARLY three times
-Put the dogs to bed and give Happy pills if he needs them. Lay on Happy’s bed with him and speak unspeakable, sappy, ridiculous, humiliatingly corny baby talk to him.
-Get in bed.
-Put lotion on legs.
-Put lotion on feet.
-Put on chapstick.
-Put in mouth guard and, if the fan is on, my satin eye cover, beauty sleep thing (because I swear I sleep with my eyes half open and the fan dries them out).
-Snuggle into bed.
-Realize I have to go to the bathroom.

That pretty much sums it up.


P.S. Sweet Dreams and Butt Cream was my original post title.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Run, baby, run

When I was young, I called all athletic shoes "tenni-shoes," as in tennis shoes. Then, when I was about 12, I moved to Canada, donned a toque, ate ketchup chips, subsequently becoming brainwashed and started calling athletic shoes "runners" because that's what all my friends were saying.

I also called my dear ol' mama, "mum." It was a dark time.

Now, I call them tenni-shoes or "sneakers," for some bizarre reason. I don't know where I picked that up.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a new pair of watchamacalits at Fort Worth Running Co. They put me on a treadmill, video recorded my gait, and played it back for me as they explained why kind of running shoe I needed. I have no arches and over-pronate, so I needed support. My new Brooks have seen a lot of miles in the last couple of weeks, more than my old tenni-runner-sneaks saw in a whole month.

For the last couple of weeks, I've consistently been running six miles on the Mineral Wells Trailway in Weatherford. My great aunt Alene always tells me she was, is and always will be a two-drink gal. Well, I was a four-mile gal for a long time. Then, something inspired me, or my brain shorted, and I upped to six miles.

I love running, and it's the only athletic endeavor I've ever been even remotely talented at. I'm not fast, at all, and I don't have anything near perfect form. But I have endurance and guts and a sickening addiction to finish no matter what. It's one of the things in life I always see to the end, no matter how ugly that end may be.

I remember when, as a 8th grader, I was running in the 800 meter race (two times around the track) at the city track meet in Edmonton, Alberta. The gun sounded and we were off. The rest of the field was pacing pacing themselves, but since speed have never been my strong suit, I knew I'd never had a chance if I waiting to battle it out in a sprint to the finish. So, I took a chance and pushed out ahead of the pack. At that age, I was usually painfully aware whenever eyes were on me and not too fond of it for a host of reasons including but not limited to acne, sweaty armpits, a bad Jennifer Aniston turned Hanson brothers haircut and overarching, all-encompassing insecurity and self-loathing. But in that moment, it didn't matter. My pounding of my feet on the track, my legs swinging powerfully, the air pushing in and out of my lungs, I felt confident and alone, in a good way. Everything else was a muted blur.

Everyone caught up to me toward the finish. I remember pushing my body so hard and realizing that no matter how much you try, sometimes, there's just nothing left. My dad had once told me that if you pump your arms faster, your legs will follow suit. So, on the home video, you can see me in my Vernon Barford Blues track uniform with my face red as a cherry, my long arms pumping furiously like pistons in an engine, and my gangly legs struggling in a disproportionally slower lope, like a gazelle in slow motion. I was all limbs, then. Still am. I'm the torso-less wonder. Still, I finished third and earned a spot on that podium.

I'm still not fast. I'm an undisclosed amount of pounds heavier. I've dislocated my knee twice. I've broken my sacrum (the back of my pelvis). But I've still got guts, carnsarnit!

This Saturday, I was headed down the trail on the back half of my six miles when a runner came from behind. He was slowly gaining on me. It didn't help that I had to stop periodically to tell Happy it was OK to slide under a fence and get a drink from a creek/pond/puddle/stagnant swamp. I can't really tell if Happy enjoys running with me. After the first couple miles during which he frantically and desperately chases squirrels, rabbits and apparitions of grandeur, he spends the rest of the time frantically and desperately searching for any body of water he can plunge in to.

Anyway, the mystery runner kept closing, which gave me a renewed inspiration to push myself more than I had in a long time. I felt like I was back on the jr. high track. Minus the acne. Well, sort of. As I could hear the closer's footsteps getting louder, I opened up my gait and really let myself fly in the last half-mile stretch. I probably opened up to early because I was audibly weezing and gasping as I gallumped past several other trail-goers. But I did it! I surged ahead and finished a good 200 meters ahead of mystery man.

After I vomited, I thanked the other runner for pushing me and assured him I didn't think he was trying to run me down and attack me. I asked him how far he had run, and he said 8 miles.

8 miles. Hmm. That got me thinking.

So yesterday, I gave it a try, telling myself that if worse came to worse, I could start walking on the way back at what would have been six miles. I headed out, and I'm actually really proud to say, I did it! And, the extra two miles were much easier than I thought they would be. Granted I was running anywhere from a 10-15 minute mile at times and was there half the day, I didn't tire cardiovascularly and only had to momentarily stop twice, once when Happy caused a biker with a dog on a leash to crash and once to balance the universe by personally returning some water to the earth in light of all that Happy had removed.

It's the ciirrrrcle of liiife, and it moves us aaaallll.

Sometimes very inconveniently with no toilet paper available. And poison plants abounding. Nuf said.

What did make it difficult toward the end were my ankles and knees. But I did it. I ran 8 miles, and I think I'll try again this weekend.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Tanner and I each turned 27 recently. The kids I babysit inform me that this is "wow, really old."

I use anti-wrinkle cream. And eye cream. Twice a day.

I regularly use denture cleaning tablets (for my mouth guard).

I drink Sleepy Time tea.

I fall asleep almost every night on the couch between 9:30 pm-10 pm. For Tanner, 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm.

I go on bird watching tours.

I wear socks with Crocs.

I wear Crocs.

Anyways. We are both a year older. That is great, and I am very thankful for all the blessings
and the struggles we received in our 27th year on this earth. They brought joy, thankfulness, refinement and growth.

I lost my job. I found a new job. We celebrated a year of marriage. We found a church in Weatherford to attend. We made new friends and watched others drift away.
I lost my cat, Striker. We both worked long, hard hours and many weekends. Tanner's Grandpa, Bud Haynes, passed away. We enjoyed Christmas celebrations at both of our parents' homes. We bought a house.

Through it all, God was faithful to us and worked in His perfect will, through valleys and mountains, to continue us on a path of loving Him, each other and the people around us.

To the test the integrity of our ever-degrading, nearly middle-aged teeth before we're forced to wear dentures or gum stewed prunes, Tanner and I each chose to celebrate our birthdays with impressive
carnivorous displays.

For Tanner's 27th in January, we, along with some good friends, went to Texas De Brazil in Forth Worth. It's a Brazilian-style churrascaria where they bring meat (beef, pork, lamb) to your table and shave off portions for you. They also have a killer salad bar, which was my favorite part.

At Texas De Brazil

Carter and Brandon

Jenni and Ryan

Adam and Tanner

After dinner, we went dancing in the Stockyards. Jenni and Ryan drove up from Beeville and stayed with us at the Hyatt Place in the "historic Fort Worth Stockyards." It was a great time, with added atmosphere due to the FW Stock Show and Rodeo going on.

Out on the town

For my birthday, this weekend, Tanner and I went to downtown FW to enjoy one of my FAVORITE fares, boiled crawfish! We got 2 lbs a piece, nice and spicy, and all the boiled taters and corn that come with it. We also had some delicious crawfish fondue and bread, all courtesy of Razzoos Cajun Cafe. I loooove when it's crawfish season.

At Razzoo's

Sunday night, Tanner made me dinner! He whipped up some huge ribeyes, mac and cheese, wedge salad and french bread, and got me a nice bottle of wine, too.

By the time the weekend wrapped up, I was full of thankfulness.

And protein.

And birthday donuts.

And brownies.

And I ran 12 miles.

Really, I did.

The end.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Birthday Makeover

Babysitting last night was awesome, as expected.

We started out by playing duck-duck-goose on the trampoline. I couldn't catch anyone. Our circle was so small that by the time I got up from the seated position, the goose was already around the loop and sitting down again. When I playfully asked, "Why can't I catch anyone?" I knew the logistics of our small circle were to blame, but the girls also informed me, "Because you're old!"

When I told them that this Sunday is my birthday ("27!? That's so old!"), they decided they needed to host a birthday party for me. I picked out outfits for everyone and did their makeup. Then, while two of the girls "decorated" the living room (draped scarves over the TV, hung an open, upside-down umbrella from the chandelier, set stuffed animals up on the couch), I got a makeover for the party. It was epic.

Five applications of lipgloss, most of which ended up INSIDE my mouth. Glitter stick all over my face and neck and chest. Red and blue hair mascara. Neon pick blush on my cheeks and jaw. Perfume. And "eyeliner." When they were done the first time, the verdict was, "Oh my word, that does NOT look good. You're a mess."

A case of Wet Wipes and three do-overs later, I was presentable for the party.

I was treated to a Miley Cirus dance party ("Party in the USA" on loop), then half of the guests left early to go play Barbies, then the remaining guests performed a 20-minute ballet to Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway."

Best birthday ever.

Check out that eyeliner!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Making Tracks

I love doing things with the dogs. About this time last year, I made it my special-day birthday request to Tanner that he come with me and the pups on a long walk down the Mineral Wells State Trailway. My 27th birthday isn't until this weekend, and I'll probably see if I can make the trek a tradition this year, but last weekend we also took the dogs to this trail. The weather was just too nice to resist on Sunday, and Tanner knew he'd be stuck inside the shop (at work) setting up jobs for the rest of the afternoon.

Birthday walk, March 2010

Birthday walk, March 2010: Digger against the world

The trail begins in Weatherford (because I'm egocentric) and runs 20 miles westward through the countryside and Lake Mineral Wells State Park before ending in downtown Mineral Wells. We haven't made it that far, but we continue to explore the trail, which used to be WMW & NW railway. In it's heyday, the tracks took thousands of passengers to Mineral Wells to experience the town's mineral springs. That all hit the fan in the early 1900s, and the railway was purchased by Texas & Pacific, then merged with the Missouri Pacific and eventually the Union Pacific. Around 1990, it was purchased by Mineral Wells and then abandoned. In 1998, it was opened as the trailway it is today!

On the trail

And it's an awesome trailway. (Really, it is. I just need to take some pictures during the spring/summer!) It starts in Weatherford at Cartwright Park and goes through 10 miles of cattle and horse pastures, hay patches and ponds before it reaches the cute little town of Garner. My dad, Tanner and I have biked this portion of the trail, and I often drive to the trail head in Garner to walk the dogs because the Garner-eastward portion of the trail is on of my favorite. There is also a cute cafe/general store in Garner where you can get something to eat or buy 4 jugs of Gatorade, like Tanner does after we're done walking.
The trailhead in Weatherford

Last weekend, we walked a portion of the trail we'd never traveled before. We started in Garner and headed west. This portion of the trail hugged Maddux Road, which you could see from the trail most of the time. That ended up not being a big deal because it was a rural road with little traffic and lots of ranchland.

The first adventure along the was was a shanty house on the right where we heard 5 large dogs barking from about 40 feet away. That was a little freaky until we realized they were behind a wire panel that, thankfully, held, despite them all five of them jumping on it at once.

The second adventure what a black and white spotted pit bull that started following us at the trailhead and walked with us all 2 1/2 miles out and 2 1/2 miles back. We saw him for the first little while but didn't realize he was still with us until about mile 1 1/2, which kind of spooked us. Most of the time he trailed far behind and would pop into sight every once and awhile. It kind of reminded me of the movie The Hills Have Eyes. He was pretty cute, and I didn't mind him being there until on the way back, he tried to, ahem, do doggy business with Digger, who is getting a little old and stiff and who at that point, was so tuckered out that all he could do was growl and kinda sorta try to turn behind to bite the other dog. Flexibility, agility and speed are not his strongest suits at this point, which diverted a dog fight. But still, I was very offended for him and felt for his wounded pride. Tanner scared the other dog off, and for Digger's sake, we all agreed we'd never speak of it again.

Third adventure was three additional big dogs running through a field lookin' like they were up to no good. They never ended up bothering us, but after our luck with bears, we erred on the safe side and started gathering the largest sticks we could find. I ended up using mine as a walking stick, which got Tanner thinking about fashioning a walking stick with a spear mounted on the end.

That's safe.

The main adventure was "Dry Creek," which ended up not being totally dry. There was a cliff-encircled pond fed by the creek, which ran through a dry gap of rocks and puddles, which we were able to hop across between pond and the creek upstream.

It was a great day, and we were happy to discover that this portion of the trail was less traveled. Aside from the burgeoning dog population, we only saw one couple bicycling. We're not antisocial. It's just nice to let the dogs run loose and not have to worry about people freaking out. They're nice, but they're just so big that they scare people. Oh, and Happy likes to bark at kids. I missed that part of his human socialization. Oops. The dogs had a great time, and as cheesy as it sounds, it's a great feelings to be able to watch dogs experience pure, unrestrained joy... Minus the humping.

I run a lot on various portions of this trail, but Tanner and I have about 8 miles yet to explore, and my neighbor has invited me to go trail riding (horseback) in Mineral Wells State Park itself.

Here's a pretty cool video on the park and trail with a troooo Takes-sus park RAYger, David Owens. Oh, and the signs on the trail say NO going faster than a walk on horseback. If I ever get in trouble for running my horses, I'll site this video.

Side note on the now abandoned, infamous (for its supposed hauntings) Baker Hotel (mentioned in the video), which was a famous resort spa centered around the mineral baths:
During the early 1930s, it drew celebrities like Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, JFK, Marilyn Monroe and supposedly Bonnie and Clyde to the dinky lil' town of Mineral Wells .

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Amazed and Thankful!

This morning I worked more on removing the rock mulch. I got about half of the rocks removed – 8'x2' worth. I filled the wheelbarrow, which deflated the tire and ran it off the rim when I tried to move it. Oops. Tanner loved that.

Then, I took pictures and posted the rocks for free on Craigslist. I was very skeptical that anyone would want the stupid rocks that I was trying so desperately to get rid of!

At the last minute, I also joined the Weatherford Freecycle group on Yahoo groups and posted the rocks on there.

I was SHOCKED at the number of responses I got. I received about four responses from Craigslist and 7 from Freecyle. I actually started to feel bad, knowing that only one person would get the rocks. I started to wish I had more rocks to go around, then realized that what I REALLY wished was I never had rocks to begin with.

Anyway, Tanner walked me through the agonizing, guilt-stricken process of deciding who to respond to and how long to wait to hear back from them before moving on, etc. The long and short of it is, someone came that day to get the rocks, and they are coming back tomorrow to get the second load that I plan to have done by the afternoon.

Awesome! While I got responses from Craigslist, I thought Freecyle was really cool, and I liked it better. The people were all extremely local, as in they lived in Weatherford, as opposed to Craiglists which goes to the whole DFW area. Also, because it is a Yahoo group, most subscribing group members get the postings delivered immediately to their inbox so you get responses much sooner. The other main difference between the two, is everything posted on Freecyle has to be FREE, duh. Craiglist is usually used for selling things. I wonder if people would have paid for my stupid rocks?

Now, for the other side of Freecycle, the side where you look for free stuff, I'm one who hates getting emails sent to my inbox from anywhere about anything because I already feel overwhelmed by the number of emails I get. Thankfully, joining didn't mean I have to be bombarded with emails about free Sony Walkmans and nonfunctioning toilets. I was able to adjust my personal settings on the group so that I have to log into Yahoo Groups to see the free-stuff posts. They don't come to my inbox. However, the direct messages people sent in response to my rock posting were sent right to my email inbox. Handy.

All in all, Freecyle rocks. You should look into it to see if there's a group for your area.

I'm hoping there will also be be people interested in the larger 3"-5" rocks from the planters that are surrounding our whole house! Who knew rocks were in such demand.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Justin Bieber's Girlfriends

I babysit on Wednesday nights for a group of absolutely sweet, hilarious, rambunctious and CREATIVE kids! No matter how tired I am from the day, I so look forward to our play times. Each child is so beautifully unique and each Wednesday evening they gather together under one roof like a colorful patchwork quilt.

Did I mention there are usually 7 kids? So it's a pretty substantial quilt. Queen/King size, at least. But last night, because of the flu, only 4 kids were there.

R, K and J are siblings, and we all get together at their house. R is the oldest, 7. She's a beautiful brunette who's kind and considerate. She has a beautiful voice. She is creative and confident; she is "in charge" of all the other girls. She decides what games they're playing and, ultimately, what is and is NOT cool that given day. She's sweet and cheerful. She is also very sensitive.

K is 5. She is a gorgeous blond, and she's a bundle of energy – so easily excitable. She's sincere and cuddly, and falls in love immediately with almost everyone. She is very theatrical and loves to dance and act and pose and do anything that puts her in the spotlight.

J is two and he is the most cheerful, happy, smiley little boy I've ever known! And I can not understand a SINGLE word that he says!

T, who is 6 or 7, usually comes with her brother, C. T is a tiny thing, freckle-faced and cute as a button.
She's athletic and nimble and amazed me the other day by doing a back flip in the living room. She is what I would call incredibly "agreeable" – she's always up for anything, goes with the flow and has yet to get in an argument with anyone. She's amazingly selfless for a little girl. Needless to say, she's everyone's best friend.

Wednesday night is always entertaining, whether we're putting on a fashion show, playing hide-and-go-seek in the dark or having a dance-off on the trampoline. But this week, this week it was particularly hi-lar-ious.

The girls decided to put on a concert. They rallied in R's and K's room for at least a half an hour to decide on their band name, outfits and makeup. They presented themselves as the newly signed artists, Justin Bieber's Girlfriends. The band was comprised of Taylor Swift (K), Selena Gomez (T) and Hannah Montana (R).

Next, I was forced to decide who should be the lead singer. The each made "ah ah ah, ah ah ah" sounds. Kind of like a mix between Mariah Carey and the Little Mermaid. I picked R, only on the premise that everyone would subsequently get a chance to be a lead singer. Everyone got pouty-faced, but R explained that "first is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest." Phew.

Then, they sat down and each wrote out songs to perform. K needed help writing. Her song went something like this:
We are the best of the rock stars. We like to sing together always, with my brother and my sister. I love my sister and my brother. I like to sing with my mom and dad and also my nana and papa. Because I like to sing with you. I like to sing always because it is fuuuunnnn."

T's song was significantly shorter:
We may be young, but we can still sing. We are the Justin Bieber girls. Our names are Taylor and Selena and Hannah.

R just wrote out all the lyrics by memory to "Love Story" by Taylor Swift. They R decided she wanted to go last – as the grand finale – and had to, after much objection from the chorus, re-explain that "third is the worst and the rest are the best."

I wish you could see how serious and intense they were when they read/sang their lyrics under the spotlight of a hand-held flashlight.

I didn't get each of their solos, but I did catch two encore performances. The first is K singing and original/made up on the spot/rambling song while the other girls play instruments. The second is K singing a solo of "Soul Sister," or is it "Scone Sister"?

J spent the night trying to make eat his shoe with a huge pelican from a pop-up picture show and pointing at the refrigerator and babbling out instructions. I can tell you in hindsight that it wasn't macaroni and cheese that he wanted, oops, and I think it might have been strawberry yogurt.

Monday, February 21, 2011

YOU Can Make the World a Better Place

Forget global warming.

Forget world peace.

If you really want to do something to make a difference for future generations,

If you really want to make the world a better place for your children,

Or, at the very least, if you want to avoid the SCORN of your children and keep future generations from CURSING your very name and BURNING an effigy of you in the streets,

Then good people of the Earth, DO NOT, I say DO NOT, use ROCKS as MULCH!!!

Rocks belong along riverbeds and lake shores. How lovely. You can skip them across the peaceful water, feel their cool smoothness in your hand, or accidentally hit your dog right in the noggin when you're aiming for a tree stump. (The fact that the dog is two feet in front of you and the intended tree stump is across the river is of no consequence.)

Rocks do not belong in your yard, and they certainly do not belong in a PLANT BED that was obviously, undeniable constructed for the exact and specific purpose of digging holes in the ground for in which to place plants.

I mean, hello, farmers curse the ground that is full of rocks. It breaks their plowshares and stubs their wittle toesies. Rocks + planting x cultivating = I'm very angry.

As you can see, the previous owners of our new home did not have someone as wise as myself to warn them of the curse they were casting on the innocents to come behind them.

Sunday was supposed to be spent planting my flower bulbs and some dewberries Susannah gave me. The harmless little layer of pebbles on the plant bed ended up being a malicious shield of pebbles at least several layers of the earth deep. I swear I got at least to the outer core.

I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon trying to remove the pebbles. I started out with a hand trowel, a kitchen sieve and a little bucket. Then, I realized that I pretty much wanted to shoot myself in eye. Then, I complained to Tanner, lamenting approximately 23 different ways about how stupid the previous owners were, how helpless I was and how my planter was doomed to a rocky death. Then, I wrote a short, sad ballad and played it for the dogs on the recorder I still have from my kindergarten music class at William B. Travis Elementary. Then I played Hot Cross Buns.

Then, I figured out a better solution. I took two wheelbarrows and set them side by side. Over one, I placed a metal grate that used to be on Tanner's utility vehicle. I took shovels full of dirt and dumped it on the grate, then, once I got a good pile, moved the rocks and dirt around until the dirt was sifted through. Then, I dumped the rocks into the other wheelbarrow and started all over again.

I was also battling a wild, killer onion with roots like spaghetti noodles that had taken over the planter.

Oh yeah, and for some reason, someone had buried plants in terracotta pots. In the ground. They put the plant in the pot, then buried the pot. So far, I've found four.

I spend several hours shoveling and sifting for rocks. It was kind of like sifting for gold, but more like the time when I was a child and swallowed a marble and had to poop in a bucket and someone had to sift through... never mind.

I made about 5 feet of progress that Sunday afternoon sifting for rocks.

The planter, which is along our shop, is 20 feet long.

There is a cumulative 113 feet surrounding the house that is also "mulched" with rocks.

I'd say I have a nice little project on my hands. (The rocks around the house are larger than the rocks around the shop, which are more like pebbles.)

And we have no clue what do with the rocks.

Any suggestions?

I don't know where the previous owners live, or else... never mind.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Boy's Dream

Tonight, one of Tanner's dreams came true.

For $1, at a Redbox outside Walmart, he rented a movie.

He took that movie home, and placed it in the DVD player.

The cast included Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Randy Couture (UFC fighter), and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

In the first two minutes, as I was cooking dinner, I heard him gleefully exclaim from the living room,

"They already blew a guy in half! This is going to be good!"

Sounds like a gem.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We Bought a House Today

It's true. After work, Tanner and I went downtown to sign the papers and close on our first home!

Our first night in our first home

About four months ago, we started looking for a house in the Weatherford area. We wanted something with acreage for the horses, a yard for the dogs, and a decent house. Oh, and in a specific side of town and at an affordable price! It turns out that getting all of those stars to align is not aeasy. I was getting to the point where I was ready to sell the horses and all our possessions and move to a shanty in Maui.

Then, the perfect deal presented itself with all the criteria we were looking for. A brick home on 2 acres at the end of a quiet dead end road in the right rural area – and a bargain price. It took about a month for all the wheeling and dealing to go through. Offers, counter offers, inspections, repairs, approvals – it's all enough to make me want to puke. Tanner handled most of everything, for which I am sincerely and abundantly grateful. He is much more calm, confident and willing to relinquish control than I am.

Now that the process is finished, I'm a little shocked and so thankful that we have our first home! I am very humbled by how God has worked things for our good. Early in 2010, I lost a great job when the company relocated to Colorado. It was my first job, and my firs time to lose a job, which can be a little scary. I received a severance package though and was paid extra to stay on as a contractor until my replacement was hired. We were able to put all that money away and use it as the down payment on this home. I was blessed to find a new job with only a week layover in between and Tanner has been securely holding a really wonderful job in the natural gas industry here in Weatherford. With the down payment ready and the insanely low interest rate Tanner was able to secure, we were able to close and secure a monthly mortgage payment on a 15 year loan at only $18 more than we were paying each month in our rental.

And that's not even the best part. Most wonderful of all, we don't have to move. We bought the house that Tanner first rented in November of 2008 when he moved to Weatherford. We've been living in it as a married couple for the last year. We knew exactly what we were getting, good and bad, as buyers. We don't have to pack. We don't have to move. We don't have to unpack.
Our home (take during the fall)

The only thing left to do was celebrate. We hit up Montana's for fried pickles, chicken fried chicken, fried porkchop, mashed and baked taters, Texas toast and salad.

I'm not kidding.

At the restaurant, I asked Tanner if he would carry me over the threshold of our new home. He conveniently forgot and is passed out on the couch with Gladiator and spilled guts running soothingly on the TV.

It may be our first night in our "new" home, but some things will never change.


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