Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Finding the Joy

This one's for Gros Papa Phil.

And for my older, more mature self that will look back and cherish memories like these. Because I know I will.

Lucy (3) and Jackson (2) decided to take Christmas into their own hands this year. I don't know... maybe it was just taking too long to get here or they thought we were doing it all wrong. I guess I'll ask them what the heck when they get old enough to put reasoning behind their actions.

I'm pretty sure the morning went something like this:

J: Hey, Lucy. Are you awake? Because I've been awake for three hours and tried going back to sleep by singing Dora's version of Twinkle Little Star but it just isn't working out for me.  You know, "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder... what you ate for breakfast." "Is that the right song?" "No Way!"
(Only parents with kids who watch Dora will understand what is going on here.)
L: Yeah, I'm familiar with that song. I am now awake. Which is bad because I'm generally pretty grumpy when I don't wake up naturally, on my own.
J: Right, well, I was thinking... we could really help mom and dad out by unwrapping all the gifts under the tree for them.
L: I'm listening. 
J: They've seemed a little stressed lately what with dad quitting tobacco and mom taking that test that determines the future of her professional career. I'm sure they'll really, really appreciate it. Let's go do that - for them.  
They proceed to plop down out of their beds and sneak downstairs in their cute, innocent, footed, penguin pajamas. I don't know how the mayhem begins, but someone had to start it and I'm guessing it was Jackson. The first, lonely tear of wrapping paper is the starting gun to a scene more commonly observed on CHRISTMAS MORNING.
It is 6:30am on December 24th, 2011.

After what was probably way too much time for a 2 and 3-year old to be sans the parental units on a separate level of the house, I wake up - probably from the innate sense that our children are having way too much fun doing something they weren't supposed to be doing. To be fair, things you're not supposed to be doing, as a rule, are more fun.

I walk slowly down the stairs fearing what I might see. About halfway down all movement from the first floor ceases and I hear Jackson whisper, "We need to hide!" Little footsteps scamper across the floor and I arrive at the bottom of the stairs to find an undisturbed first living room (we have two, don't question it). As I round the corner toward the second living room I see my sweet little angels hiding in opposite corners of the room. My eyes then scan quickly toward where the tree resides.

To be honest, my first reaction to what lies before me is excitement. After over-analyzing this event I later determine the reaction was Pavlovian. (It was Pavlov who had the dogs, right? A little help, mom?) Every time I have ever seen a room filled to the brim with torn wrapping paper prior to this it has been the result of me tearing the wrapping paper and therefore having new possessions.

That feeling lasts a whole two seconds until reality sinks in. And then I am shocked. And then I am angry. And then I don't know what the heck to do.

So, without looking my children in the eye, I turn around and walk in a zombie fashion back upstairs to our room where my husband is blissfully snoring. (At this point I consider just going back to bed, but then I remember the Christmas cookies sitting on the counter and there is no way I'm re-decorating two dozen cookies)
 Chris. I need your help. Chris. Chris. CHRISTOPHER! A LITTLE HELP HERE! 
We both snap out of it- he out of his sleep and I out of my state of PTSD- and we immediately engage the 4-Wheel-Drive of Parenting.

You will have to tilt your head to the right to properly view the following pictures since Blogger can't seem to get it right despite the files actually facing the correct direction. 
Suspect #1

Suspect #2
This is what we did (and we're not really looking for your approval or constructive criticism of our parenting style at this point. I'd venture to say that any decisions made during this time were made under duress): We took all the toys away. (To clarify; we had a minor incident similar to this a few weeks prior [this is what I get for finishing my shopping early] and both kids had been well-warned of the consequences. But, alas, they are 2 and 3-years-old.) We re-wrapped a few of them for the predetermined and approved Christmas present unwrapping times. They both had to do hard, manual labor for the rest of the day. Chris and I opened our gifts from each other.

I'm kidding about the manual labor part, but if they made snow shovels that fit a 3ft tall person I would have been all over that.

It wasn't until later that I was able to see the joy in this story. Instead of receiving looks of sympathy and dismay from the Grandparents after recounting the horrific details of that morning, we were met with that Santa-like glimmer in the eye. The one that approves of harmless mischief. Their bellies practically shook like a bowl full of jelly from their amusement.

This is a story that will go down in history.
They look so cute and innocent.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The evolution of Friendship.

Bekah Joy Hornor Kooy (your new married name means I consider you a poem), you can skip over the first half of this post because you've heard it all already.

Last night I got to spend 2 hours talking to one of my Best Friends, Bekah.
Saying "Best Friend" sounds weird and juvenile, but there are definite levels of friendship and she qualifies as a "Best".
I'd say there are three levels of friendship: Friend, Good Friend and Best Friend.
Best Friends, like Bekah, are those people who you can talk to about anything and you no longer care what they think about you. You're comfortable around each other and if a little fart slips out, then, so what?
Good Friends are those people you can hang out with and enjoy, but you still care (and wonder) about what they are thinking you might be thinking about what they are thinking about your parenting choices. And you are judging their parenting choices. And mostly you just gossip about other Good Friends with Good Friends.
Friends are more what Facebook would qualify as "Acquaintances".

Bekah is a Best Friend because I can fart in front of her (although I rarely do) and she will laugh and think it's funny and not start scrolling through her phone to discretely delete my contact information like a Good Friend or Friend would do.

Okay, Bek... you better go back and read that part because we did not cover that in our conversation last night.

I had an entire post dedicated to explaining to my Best Friends why I am now different from them because I have kids and they don't. After typing out the last sentence - "...and that's why I've become a complete drag after 9pm and usually have stains on my clothing." - I decided it was waaaaay too personal to have the entire world Singapore read. I highlighted and hit Backspace. I'm truthful and personal here, but it's pretty distasteful to be calling out your friends on Blogger. And after talking with Bekah, I've discovered that my emotions were headed in the wrong direction. When I thought I was justified in complaining that my Best Friends no longer understand me, what I was really feeling was their absence. I miss them. And I want to all be living in the same city again. We're all having life experiences that make us different from each other. I love that and I hate that.

It's going to take some getting used to, at least.

Last night Bekah and I were talking about our stress triggers and how they are different for each person, but carry just as much weight. My stress-triggers include having an office directly across from the bathroom so I can smell when people poop and kids (mine) who make Ewok noises during church. Bekah's include, understandably, almost all aspects of being a PA-C at the Cardiac ICU at UW.
So, let's recap: Poop and Ewok noises drive me to drink gallons of diet Coke and waste time blogging when I should be studying for the MAT's while Bekah might eat something that has Gluten in it if she's spent the day around people who are nearly dead whose lives she probably saved and sometimes wasn't able to. (No disrespect intended.)
It certainly puts it all into perspective, but we concluded that everyone is justified in their stresses because no matter what they are the level of intensity is the same. Or maybe she was just trying to make me feel better.

I think it's this disconnect or misunderstanding that left me feeling distant.
I'm over it now and I plan to start writing letters with pen and paper to bridge the gap. I'll even spritz them with a little perfume to make it more personal. Or I'll let my kids run around with them for awhile.

I love you guys. And that's personal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Angst in Stream of Consciousness

When I sit down to write a blog post I usually don't have a topic in mind. I just get this itch to write - to communicate whatever is in my head. So, this post can go one of two ways: I feel a heart-to-heart coming on OR I want to pretend that I'm crafty because it's the holidays (but really I'll just steal other people's ideas, implement them into my home and look really put together and/or crazy). Where it will go, nobody knows...
Speaking of the holidays (do you like my blog decor?), I'm having Thanksgiving at my house this year. With Chris's family. I love Chris's family, but how can I not feel slightly anxious about this? (By the way, I know you're all reading this blog and that makes me a little bit embarrassed so let's just awkwardly not talk about this at the table on Thursday, okay?) It's all about healthy relationships. And about panicking and suddenly feeling very insecure about that particular green color and bold brick color I painted in our house. Will people lose their appetites because of my interior design choices?
And then there's the turkey. We received a 21 pound gobbler from Rocky Ridge Ranch at the end of our CSA season. It's so large that we couldn't fit it in our freezer and I ended up having to make a late-night run to a friend's house in my bath robe and slippers to stow it in their freezer.
I have the following questions about preparing a turkey for Thanksgiving:
One... How do you know you've gotten all the guts out?
Two... Do you have to stuff it with something once you've gotten the guts out?
Three... Will people be able to tell that I instead got one of those roasted chickens from Safeway and taped magazine pictures of beautiful, golden turkeys on it?
Chris's family is now thoroughly horrified. And scared.
Another slight concern I have is football. Here's the situation: When my dad was staying with us (for farming purposes - don't want to get the small-town rumor mill started) we bundled our phone, Internet and Dish. We didn't have a TV, but dad had one in his room. When he stopped staying with us (for newlywed purposes) we still had the bundle because we had a contract. By the way, why do those contracts feel more like that token bad relationship everyone's had where you know you need to get out, but you just can't? (oh, maybe that's just me.) I feel the same way with my iPhone cell plan, but that's more of a co-dependency situation.
Anyway, we have the basic channel options and I'm worried we won't even get the football games that everyone will want to watch. You know, those big ones like the bowls and stuff. I don't think you can get football games on Hulu or Netflix. And even if you could, I don't think people would enjoy gathering around the Mac to watch them.
So, with the angst of a teenage boy I prepare for my first holiday hosting. (Not true, I had Christmas Eve at my house last year.)
Here's the important thing this Thanksgiving: We're all together. Just don't mind the smoke coming from the kitchen. And thank God for Paula Deen.

If my Turkey doesn't look like this you all get a refund.

See? Now wasn't that fun?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's a Circus in Seattle.

It's been awhile since I've laughed until my cheeks hurt.

This past weekend Chris and I loaded up the ol' Tribute with the popcorn maker, Ball jars and toiletries and headed over the hill to Seattle. Just the necessities ya know...

We checked in at the Red Lion downtown and headed directly for Anthropologie. I could wear/live with anything in that store with the exception of this little number:

Christmas is coming. Do not get this for me.

I then headed over to Bekah's loft for her Bachelorette party. Bekah is everything she sounds like. Smart. Beautiful. Fun. Repeat. We met at Whitworth where she was the best setter I've ever had. I'm pretty sure I was the worst middle she's ever had, but I picked it up Senior year which also happens to be the year we became soul sisters. Which I'm just now realizing our friendship hinges on my ability to play volleyball.
I love Bekah. And Bekah loves Matt. Which is why we were in Seattle in the first place.

The Bachelorette party consisted of Mimosas, Susan's famous enchiladas, Mariachi cut-outs awkwardly staring, lingerie and WhirlyBall.
What, you ask, is WhirlyBall? It's ridiculous. Put bumper cars, Lacrosse and basketball at the same table, give them a few stiff drinks and you have WhirlyBall. Google it. You won't regret it.

The gals! And Bek's loft wall that everyone wishes they had.
 The next day was Bekah's wedding! Bekah and Matt managed to pull off an incredibly sexy wedding. They had the reception and ceremony at Pravda Studios on Capitol Hill. Gorgeous. And Unique.
Can we talk about the umbrellas?
Having just planned a wedding I'm very attune to wedding details and Bekah and Matt had lovely, thoughtful details. The circus theme (thus, the popcorn maker) was a unique accent that screamed Bekah and the southern comfort food was a tasteful nod to the time that Bekah and Matt spent in Atlanta while she was in PA school at Emory. And Bekah rapped to Eminem so there's not really much that needs to be said after that.

And then there was the Photobooth. Enter: Sore laughing muscles.

We were completely inappropriate and loving it.

 Chris and Natalie are comedy soul-mates.

Matt: this is my all-time favorite.
So, congratulations to Bekah and Matt! And thank for letting Chris and I stay at your loft and watch after Hank and Ralph (we bonded)! We love you and in our limited marriage experience can honestly say that you will have the time of your life. In your vows you said, "I promise to love you when it's easy and when it's an effort". It's not always fun, but it's always love. We love you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Date Night.

Last night Chris missed our date night.
You're thinking, "What a jerk!", right? Well, don't. It wasn't his fault.
One hears, especially in a time of war, about the sacrifices that men and women in the military and public service positions make in order to protect us. They carry the ultimate form of commitment to our country and their families; a willingness to sacrifice their lives, a willingness to sacrifice time with their families, a willingness to sacrifice the chance for normalcy when they return- if they return. I know, because my brother spent a year in Iraq and is confidently looking down the barrel of another tour. This commitment has affected every area of his life.
I can't tell you in actual English words (or any other language for that matter) how proud I am of my brother.
I know you're waiting for the part where I let loose on the fallacies and selfishness of the politics involved in war, but this post isn't about that. It's about the fact that we have people around us who are willing to sacrifice themselves - their whole lives, not just black and white, live or die, but the fact that the day they decide to join the service they are changing their lives forever - for us. Usually we're strangers to them. I can say for a fact that I don't have the balls to do that.
When I was a kid we used to play the typical cops and robbers games. By the end of the game I would be in such a state of terror and anxiety that I'd be exhausted after my blood pressure and adrenaline evened out. The thought of someone being after me to fake kill me was terrifying. The thought of someone being after me to actually kill me is not a thought I can entertain. Because I can't handle it. I can barely watch suspense movies. I love them, but I can barely watch them. Chris has the fingernail marks to prove it.
Does that make me a coward? Probably, but I can't help it. My brother got all the brave genes.
So last night I was sitting on my mother-in-law's leather couch watching Sex and the City, drinking a glass of wine and worrying. At around 10 pm my husband stumbles into the kitchen reeking of smoke and sweat. I gave him a big bear hug anyway.
Last night was Chris's first big fire since joining the Reardan fire department. When I asked if he was scared he said, "Nah, it was actually calming and if anything I was sad for the family." That's a hero's response. That's the response every person has who puts themselves into danger for someone else. They do what needs to be done and they have a sense of sympathy - even empathy for those they are protecting. My husband is a hero. And I find that to be quite attractive...
So, thank you to everyone who has the balls to fight for us - whether it's in the military, as a cop, fire fighter or EMT or anyone who has ever taken on the burden and responsibility of another person's life in the face of danger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Country Mouse/Country Family

What's really the difference between a country mouse and a city mouse?
A country mouse has one option of refuge when it starts getting cold. A city mouse, on the other hand, has many options. Your house, your neighbors house, the school, the church... really, the options are endless for the city mouse.
If you live in the city you can consider yourself lucky in this conversation.
I live in the country.

When I lived in Wyoming I also lived in the country, but in a loft apartment instead of a farmhouse. When the mice started coming in during the Fall I used live traps to kindly encourage rodents to remain outside. Or to instead find a spot next to the horses downstairs. An actual loft. More barn, less city-chic. 
The mouse problem stopped after escorting a particularly insistent mouse to Grand Teton National Park to live out its last days dodging Osprey instead of in my bathtub doing the backstroke. And I stopped leaving food on the counter. Just, you know, as a precaution.

My current country mouse situation requires a little more- how do I say this?- ARTILLERY.
Remember this game? Still one of my faves.
Was it not enough to eat half of my beans and tomatoes out of the garden leaving them pitifully amputated while clutching to their vines? Or worse, to help their fat little selves to my certified organic, locally grown peaches, pears and apples that were securely stored in the barn? How rude! Now they insist on munching through bags of flour, oats and appliance owner manuals?

I understand if, after reading this, none of my friends want to come over. It's gross. And it grosses me out. I wouldn't call it an infestation, but the tally of now deceased rodents is rising. Hopefully I'm winning the battle. I'd like to win the war, really.

Family Update:
We made it through the wedding! I hate to sound relieved that it's all over, but weddings are hard work. And I'm lovin' married life. It means there's someone there to remove the mouse carcasses.
But really... our wedding was everything we imagined it to be way back in January. It's so rewarding to plan and plan and plan and then see it all come together in a single day. Pics soon... I promise!

Chris and I went on a mini- honeymoon the week after the wedding to the Oregon Coast. That week marks the longest period of time we've spent with just each other. It was so great to focus solely on Chris and to have his undivided attention. Of course, I couldn't help but to call Jackson each night to see how his day was and say goodnight. It also marked, by far, the longest period of time I've ever spent away from Jackson.

People keep asking me if it feels different to be married. The short answer? No. It's impossible for our relationship to change just because we have a party. The long answer: I love looking at Chris and knowing that he chose me to spend the rest of his life with and that I get to spend the rest of my life with him. And with that comes a security in that there's someone taking this journey with you. I couldn't ask for a more loving, generous, hard-working guy and I'm so excited to live and grow with him, Lucy and Jackson.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm Normal. You're Normal. We All Scream for Ice Cream.

Remember this post? And this? Neither of these posts were all that long ago, but the underlying failure and parental insecurity I've felt since posting them has surfaced its ugly little noggin more than I'd like. I don't think it's my own convictions that cause these feelings either. That's why I love this. After reading that blog post today I feel renewed. I'm normal. I'm just not normal for saying it out loud. But maybe I'm healthier. Maybe I'll deal with the rough patches just a little better.
I love our kids. And there are days when I love them just as much, but feel like I will explode and go postal if I have to [ insert difficult parenting action here ] one more time. I think I keep bringing this up because there are so many new moms around me right now. And I see that look in their eyes too. And that's okay. They're normal. YOU'RE NORMAL!!
So that's my soapbox for the day.
And for all of you who want to have kids in the future and don't know what the heck I'm talking about, I will say this: (because I mean this from the bottom of my heart and I don't want there to be a wave of hysterectomies had) There are more moments than not when you look at your child and you feel like you can't love any more than you love them and you want to scoop them up and hold them until they fall asleep in your arms, and even then you don't want to put them down.
And then there are moments you just wish they would go to sleep.

And then there's the shopping.
Lucy and Jackson hit the big time when I came across these little numbers:
Lucy loves shoes. I'm pretty sure she owns more shoes than I do. And that's saying something.

They'll be wearing them for the wedding and I'll be wearing a larger, but just as cute pair for the reception. I'm pretty sure my mom thinks they're the ugliest things on the planet and she's not alone, but there's something comfy-earthy (which is the technical term for my kind of style) about them. And the greatest thing about Toms is their One-to-One Movement: For every pair purchased, a pair is given to a child in need. I love companies who start with making the world around them better and just happen to make money while doing it. That's karma.

So... the wedding is 11 days away. I made Chris and myself official "Last-Minute, Holy-Crap, We're Getting Married in (at the time) Less than 3 Weeks" to-do lists. We've pretty much knocked it out of the park and aside from some things that can't happen until the week-of we're ready to go! It's a good feeling to know that if I sat on my thinner, but-not-quite-as-skinny-as-I-had-planned, but-I-still-have-a-little-time-I-guess, hiney from now until the wedding day that I would still be married and it would still be beautiful. But we all know that won't happen.

Oh- and a friendly reminder to friends and family to please RSVP here.

Most likely my next blog post will be as a married woman. Woohoo! See you on the other side!

You know you live in a small town when the person in Records at the Courthouse says, "I got your invitation and I was wondering when you were coming in to do this!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oh, the Vanity of it all!

The following is a true email I sent to our wedding photog and friend, Whitney Tampien:

Carey Guhlke to Whitney                                                                                               show details Jun 16

10:30 works perfect. I love Auntie's so maybe we could get some pics in there for the bookstore portion and then I was thinking we could tie the two together with picnic-type shots (our goods from the farmers market while reading our books? Maybe I'm making this too complicated...) Let me know what your professional AND personal opinions are.

Also, I have a little bit of an embarrassing question to ask you. Don't feel badly if you laugh out loud after reading this:
You've probably noticed that while my teeth are straight... they're still pretty screwed up. I got into a horse accident in high school and have one front tooth that is discolored due to a root canal and another that has a half cap on it. The cap is now a different color from the rest of my teeth because my natural teeth have become whiter since it was installed. Long story short... I had planned on getting all of this fixed before the wedding, but it's not going to happen. So longer story short... can you edit my teeth? (I'll pause here so you can compose yourself). I know that might mean extra work in editing so let me know what you think about that.
Anyway, see you Saturday at the Spokane Farmers Market on 5th and Brown at 10:30. We can meet next to the market manager's booth.
Whitney is an amazingly talented photographer and editor so I know she could have managed this strange request with no problem, but I'm happy to report that I got my teeth fixed. Whitney's response to this? "Excited for you and your teeth! :)"
I'm aware that a post about my teeth is a little strange, but my messed up chompers have been an unfortunate feature of my face for far too long.
Back in my Rodeo Royalty days (let's just label this the most humiliating blog post and leave it at that) I was involved in what I like to call a "horse accident".
After I did my thang in the arena (it involved a lot of out of control horse running, sparkles and waving like I had a cramp in my elbow) I was headed back to the trailer when I heard a comotion. My cowboy hat - which doubled as a two-way radio with Robin in the Bat-cave (continuation of humilation) crackled and I heard him say,"Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods!" (it's a true Robin quote, I looked it up here. Chris would be proud. And Holly would be proud that I used the word "snoods") "There's a horse running wild through town!"
With that, my mount and I were off in search of the horse-run-amok. We had the haunches of the beast in our cross-hairs when it took a sharp corner to the right. My trusty steed being usually untrusty and out-of-control 75% of the time would not slow down. To be fair, the 17h (very tall) Paint was on pavement with metal shoes and we shouldn't have been running in the first place.
(Insert the high-pitched cartoon audio "whoop, whooop, whoooop" which always indicates slipping and falling.)
In slow, dramatic motion we gracefully slid around the corner. And by gracefully I mean not gracefully. And by slid I mean screached to a halt with our faces on the gravelly pavement. My trusty steed and I.
This is where the story becomes less Cartoon Network and more Lifetime Movies.
The dust settles and there lies the lifeless body of a rodeo princess. Little sparkless float to the ground as the sound of galloping horses becomes inaudible in the distance. Her trusty steed has ditched her.
(The details get a little fuzzy around this point in the story. Probably because I had a concussion.)
My eyes flutter open to see a car full of floaty-wearing, sunscreen smelling, swimsuit doning kids staring back at me. A small woman scuttles around the back of the car and I sit up in shock.
-Memory Blackout-
I'm in the car with said kids gaping at me, blood running from my face. I run my tongue across my dry lips and croak, "My teeth!" I must have just about jumped out of the car because the woman responded in a panicked tone, "Do you want me to take you ba..." Before she could finish her sentence I found my teeth. Their fragments were lodged into the inside of my lower lip.
-Memory Blackout-
I'm sitting in the waiting room at the local hospital trying to call my parents.
-Actual Blackout-
I'm in the E.R. and some guy is scrubbing at my road-rashed face with something that stings like hell. I'm clutching my teeth in one hand and the bed railing with the other thinking, "Where did that lady and her kids go? What happened to my horse?"
Soon my parents get there. The events that followed are a blur and I don't remember in what order they happened.
None of the local dental offices were open so we had to go to the next town over (Wilbur) so a dentist could glue makeshift braces to my teeth because they were all loose. At one point my mom took me back to the corner so I could look for a little angel pin that had fallen off my sash in the wreck. Sad. I don't remember if I found her or not. A little old lady came out of the house on the corner while I was searching and told me the story of the crash, not realizing that I was the subject of her story.
I couldn't get my broken teeth fixed until my remaining teeth had firmed up and in the mean time I was in a wedding. I put an ad in the local paper thanking the woman who scraped me up off the pavement and took me to the hospital, but never heard from her. A lot of people think she was an angel. I'm not so sure. I think maybe she was in town from Wenatchee visiting her sister, on her way to the public pool with her kids and nephews.
No, I'm pretty sure she was an angel.  

So for the past 10 years I've been walking around with temporary teeth that sometimes fall out if, for example, I pull my ski jacket zipper up with my teeth, get kicked in the face while practicing Jiu Jitsu, or bite into something especially crunchy. The temps have also, over the years, stayed the same color while my real teeth have gotten whiter. This lent itself to a very realistic hillbilly impersonation.

As of yesterday, thanks to Dr. Martin, I am now the proud owner of two new, white, beautiful teeth. Forever.
I understand that many of you won't appreciate the weight of this life improvement for me, but let me just say that I will no longer worry about smiling with my teeth... and that's huge.

All I wanted for Christmas were my two front teeth.
Someone had to say it.
 By the way, my horse, Mick, was fine aside from some road rash and soreness. He's now living out his last days on a farm as a pet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Take My Hand

I've been made to feel a little bit of mom-guilt since I wrote my last post. But I refuse to take it back.
Let me explain: I refuse to believe that even the best moms don't have days like that. I refuse to believe that even the best mom's children don't ever behave badly. And I refuse to believe that my readers who have children don't relate or understand.

This is a joke.
So with that, I will say this... Even on their worst days Lucy and Jackson are the best things that have ever happened to me. That's a given.
Oh yeah... and Chris. <3 (he can get pretty unruly if he hasn't eaten at least every hour, on the hour.)

Besides, I discovered the blog stats (Eureka!) and apparently complaining about your kids drives a lot of traffic to your blog. I'm talking 35% more. (Which is like... 23 a day instead of... whatever 35% less would be. We're not breaking records here.)


Our save-the-date video is finished! Disclaimer: Unless you receive this video in an email from Chris or me this isn't an open invitation. I wish we could invite everyone and their third cousin, but the church only seats 100 people.

I've been doing some learn-as-you-go video production for Lincoln Hospital so I know a teensy bit about the process. It's hard to make people feel natural in front of a camera especially with topics like breast cancer, robotic physicians and colonoscopies. You heard me.
Rob and Megan from Rogue Heart Media did a fantastic job. And they are the coolest people. Luckily, we didn't have to go over any EMS safety protocols so the subject was a little more natural to talk about, but it still took a lot of talent to take the raw footage and create something so great.
Here it is! Love.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When Little Fits Hit the Shan.

Tonight was pretty normal. We came home from work, made dinner (grilled steak and potato salad. I don't normally post recipes because I don't enjoy giving away tips because I need all the help I can get in being a better cook than, well, anyone. But I've made an exception because this is super easy and super, duper good. ), ate dinner outside for the first time this summer, watched the kids play, read stories, put the kids to bed and are settling down with our beverages of choice. Sounds pretty good, right? 

Insert: nails on chalkboard whining, back-talking, hands-on-everything-they've-been-told-not-to-put-their-hands-on-a-million-times, arguing, poking the dog's eyes out, refusing to eat their dinners and last, but most certainly not least, "ears? what ears? oh... those things used for LISTENING?" And now, as I write this, Chris is upstairs putting the kids to bed for the THIRD time. 

Isn't there a reality show for this? Nanny 911? Dr. Nanny? Boot Camp for 2 and 3-year-olds? 

A Moment: Chris and I are using an old type writer as the guest book at our wedding reception. Chris brought the typewriter home tonight. As the kids were wreaking havoc in the next room we were pounding out letters to God, crying out for mercy on an old Royal from the 1940's. 
"Dear God, 
Please have mercy on us. We know you're sitting up there laughing. Parenting is your form of entertainment isn't it? Well, it's not funny. Now we know why you were so willing to sacrifice your only Son. 
Please send help quickly. 
Chris and Carey"
It was an outlet of frustration if nothing else. And we're probably going to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks for it. 

You can only put a kid in time-out so many times before it becomes completely ineffective. At one point Chris started singing his communications with the kids like show-tunes. It at least made them be still for longer than 3 seconds, but pretty soon Jackson said, "Why Daddy Chris singing? He's silly." He did look a little insane. 

You know you've demanded your child's attention in the wrong way when she says "No, you need to listen to me." as her response. 

I know that every parent has these days and that it's normal to feel frustrated and it doesn't mean we have bad kids... because on any other day we don't, but I just have one question: Whose sins am I paying for here? Because I don't remember acting like this as a child. EVER. I'm sure my mother would attest to this. 

Here's that rockin' recipe that you'll slave over and your preschoolers will look at you in disgust and refuse to eat: 

Grilled Steak & Potato Salad:

2 Garlic Cloves, pressed
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled potatoes, cut into slices (we also used a one sweet potato)
1 medium sweet yellow onion, cut into slices
2 medium tomatoes, wedged
6 cups torn romaine lettuce

1. Start up the grill! 
2. Combine garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well to form a paste. 
3. Spread all but 1 teaspoon of the garlic mixture over both sides of the steak.
4. Add vinegar, half the oil and mustard to the remaining garlic mixture. Whisk until blended. 
5. Brush potatoes and onions with the other half of the oil. 
6. Grill up the steak, potatoes and onions to your liking or until done. 
7. Cut steak into strips and potatoes and onions in half. 
8. Mix lettuce, steak, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and dressing together in a large bowl. 
We (including the kids because they are both carboholics) ate this with toasted Cheesy Pleasy bread from Sawyer's. It's best if it's toasted on the grill! 

I don't have a picture of the salad because I was too preoccupied to remember to take one. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jello Puddin' Pops.

For Easter we went to Jackson, WY.
We went snow-shoeing, ate at the Q, had drinks at the Cadillac, visited EGC... all the normal things. I tried to return some Chacos I had purchased the year prior at the Bootlegger, but they wouldn't let me so... I'll sell you a pair of size 10 women's Chaco sandals that have been worn three times by yours truly for a bargain basement price. Let's talk.
Going to Jackson is always a little bittersweet for me. I love that place. I'm not a good skier, I don't climb. I like to hike and kayak and snowshoe, but nothing too hardcore. Compared to most people my age in Jackson I'm more Gaper and less Local. I mean, they get crazy down there! But there's something spiritual about it. Something that makes me sit back and contemplate life's meaning in a non-cliche sort of way. Unless you've been there, you don't know. There's an actual aura that you feel coming from the mountains as you cross into Wyoming from Idaho over the pass. (Maybe it's nature's lovely song... maybe it's the drugs, I don't know.) The Grand looms over the valley like a god. It takes lives and yet many wouldn't be complete without it. To your right there are people risking sanity just for the rush of skiing down the pass and to your left you almost just hit a moos with your car.
I lived in Jackson a few years ago. A lot of life-changing things happened there and each year I make the trek back to pay homage to a new life born from such a beautiful place.
The first year I was away I brought back a tiny baby that bore its name. The second year I brought a couple close friends and a romantic hopeful. The third year I visited those close friends and brought my future husband. Each year my life is different. It's like introducing two people you know will hit it off. My ever-changing life and Jackson, WY.
I realize how strange it sounds to be so emotionally attached to a place. It's almost childish. And it's hard to explain. I go back each year and I come away renewed.
This year, I was doubly renewed. This year, I was not only in Jackson, but I also had three of my closest friends there with me. The four of us hadn't been in the same room together for over 2 years.
Enter: random sarcasm, excessive farting, illogical cause promotion, volleyball highlights video and froyo. Chris was a trooper. He even participated with his Bill Cosby impersonation.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

When you've fallen into a vortex and can't get out.

Confession: Chris and I purchased our wedding bands a couple weeks ago. Since we've picked them up from the jeweler in Spokane we've been known to wear them around the house on occassion. It's only for a couple minutes and then they go right back into the drawer next to the pearls that Chris's mom gave me (they were her mom's pearls).
No wonder the jeweler asked us if we'd like to keep them in the safe at the store until the big day...

Wedding plans are coming along! We're doing a Save the Date video instead of sending out cards so watch your email inbox for one! This saves lots of green in all sense of the word and gives me an opportunity to flex my newfound videographer muscles. And it's more personal. Waaaay more personal.

I've decided that wedding planning is a funny sort of vortex that one easily falls into. There's always going to be something better out there. The next wedding blog will always have something cuter or more creative. Next season will come out with the perfect shade of coral that wasn't available the season you got married. (I've learned that "vintage-y, muted" coral does not exist. One vendor looked at me blankly and said, "You mean peach?" No. I do not mean peach. I mean "vintage-y, muted coral.)

Here's the thing: you're just as married at the end of the day.

I'm scavenging for wire bird cages and vintage picture frames right now. Michael's and Jo-Ann's have a whole new meaning to me. As do the words, "DIY" and "what's your wedding budget?" My wedding budget is "spend as little as possible" so we can go on a killer Honeymoon.
To Greece.
With that being my option I start thinking things like, "why can't everyone just bring their own flatware to eat with? BYOFW. While we're at it... who needs to even eat?" But then that's the vortex talking.

We'll be just as married at the end of the day.
I will, however, go Bridezilla on your ass if you refer to my "coral" as "peach".

Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday!... to us!

This morning I woke up to the usual, "Mommmeeeeeeee! Help me!" I rolled out of bed and stumbled down the hall in my underwear to find the all-too-familiar scene of Jackson at the doorway of his bedroom, imprisoned by the baby gate. "Where's Grammi?" he said as I wearily picked him up and headed downstairs, coffee on my brain. It seemed too complicated to explain that, yes, Grammi was here when he went to bed last night, but she had since left to catch a flight to Arizona for a work conference and wouldn't be back for another week.
So I just said, "Grammi's on the airplane!" as excitedly as my bed head could muster. Jackson looked at me blankly, but seemed satisfied with her whereabouts- especially if it included an airplane.
A normal start to our morning, but then it dawned on me: It's my birthday! At (now) 27 my birthday has become something that reminds me I'm much closer to 30, but I still get a childish joy out of thinking that the day is all mine
Well, no. That's not completely true. I joyously and ironically share my birthday with Brent, my older brother. Up until last year this fact was not a reality, but I'm so glad it is now. My mom worries that our shared birthday makes us feel gypped, but I assure you it does not. It's just one of those things that make you say, "what are the chances?" and then go on to feel an unspoken bond- a connection that even the awkward stages of getting to know each other can't infiltrate. Brent and I both suffer from "what's there to say without getting too personal?", a disease passed down by our maternal family which causes initial relationships to plod slowly forward, struggling against the heavy load of assumption, until one day the relationship suddenly feels like an old shoe that you'd never part with due to its comfort.
So throughout the day today- through the facebook greetings and the cheesy "Happy Birthday" song voicemails- I'm thinking of Brent. And he's probably thought of me. And we've both thought, "what are the chances?" but not felt an ounce of resentment toward our shared day. And we're wondering if we should maybe call each other, but maybe that's too personal.  
And by Kramer, I mean Carey.
Happy Birthday!... to us! 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Beef Burgundy is not the way to my heart, but being domestic might be.

This might sound old-fashioned.

I made Beef Burgundy last week and wore an apron while doing so. It's green and white and I bought it at the Rejuvenations store in Reardan, WA. It was an impulse buy. I don't know if it was the apron that led me to the beef burdundy or if the beef burgundy led me to the apron... I love the apron. I wasn't so much a fan of the beef burgundy.
Lately I've been, well, domestic. I've had strange urges to sew things and cook things from scratch. I've even been slightly crafty as of recent.
Here's my theory: I now have people to do these things for. Two little ones and a big one, to be precise. I love seeing them enjoy the food I've made or the home I've created.
Now don't get me wrong, I jump on the bra burning bandwagon as fast as the next 20-something, liberal arts-educated, inner-hippie child.
(There are so many things wrong with that sentence. A) Women's Rights is not a bandwagon on which to jump on or off and B) should not be considered a result of age, education or culture, but A) I couldn't resist the alliteration and B) often times my dad mumbles "I should have never sent you to that liberal, hippie school."  after a heated discussion about, well, anything. And then I laugh. Because there's irony in raising a child to think for herself only to get ruffled feathers when she actually thinks for herself. Also... I went to Whitworth. You get the idea here. ) 
So I'm standing in the kitchen, barefoot, pregnant, apron-clad, with a child hanging off my leg. Not necessarily the image of a Lucy Stone or a Susan B. Anthony (although I'm sure they had those moments), but I'm happy. A light goes off and I suddenly understand that I'm not doing those things because I'm oppressed. Or because it's expected. Or because that's my role. I'm doing those things because they make me happy. And they make my family happy. And seeing my family happy makes me happy. It was like a symbolic bra burning.

Wedding update: (We've known this for awhile and have even been telling people. It's just been a secret to the blog, I guess.) We've set the date for September 10th. 9.10.11. Huzzah.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's all in the Details.

   Poor Chris... he lost his girlfriend. Has anybody seen her? Oh, wait... she's over there, under that pile of wedding magazines (blogs).

   Lately, it seems that all I talk about with the poor guy are wedding plans. It makes me wonder what we'll be talking about the day after the wedding. Probably the wedding...

   I guess it's to be expected. It's only been three weeks since his proposal and as I mentioned in my last blog post, I have a lot stored up in my file of "all things glorious for my wedding day."

   But before I get into the most recent details I need to update you on Jackson.
He will be 2 next month. 2! The words come out of my mouth, but I hardly believe them! He is his own little human- complete with attitude and opinions. He's been sleeping in his "big boy bed" for about a month and each morning I wake up to Jackson standing in the doorway of his bedroom yelling "Mommmeeee!" (I put up the baby jail because I'm afraid he'll fall down the stairs.) This new morning ritual is cherished, even on mornings when it occurs at 6am and I want to roll over and pull the covers over my head.
   Sometimes, complete sentences come out of Jackson's mouth. The other day he told me I needed to go take a bath. I'll admit, sometimes I stink, but that was just harsh.
It's the cutest when we're driving down the driveway (it's a long one...) and Jackson excitedly says, "we're home!!" over and over. Or when he gives me "kisses with his lips" and comes at me unabashedly with his tongue. Or when he squeals in delight over the cat. Every day. Apparently, the concept of Kiki never gets old. Or when he points to no particular part of my body and says "what's that?" I don't know man... I don't know what happened.
His outlook on life is so raw. So untainted. I love it and feel refreshed by it on a daily basis.

   Something else that is almost as refreshing to me are the colors we have chosen for the wedding (and we're back...).
Olive, Corral and Cream. What d'ya think?
   My mom and I were at the Bridal Festival in Spokane last weekend and I had these colors in mind, but hadn't decided on the exact shade. (This is how crazy I am being.) I saw the most perfect bouquet from aNeMonE that incorporated these colors and at that moment knew they were right for our wedding. I briefly worked with one of the owners of aNeMonE at the Davenport Hotel when he was just starting this amazingly brilliant business and will most likely be purchasing my bouquet from there (not the one I saw though... too much baht required). I love the idea of being able to keep my bouquet for years and years because it will be made out of handmade paper flowers.
   Chris agrees on the colors and here we are. The bridesmaids will each be wearing a different colored dress and the groomsmen will be wearing dark brown suits.  

   I'm so excited about this next detail of our wedding. So excited.
Flat4 Photography will be our photographer for the big day. Whitney Tampien from Flat4 has been a friend of mine since our days at Whitworth where we played volleyball together. She's so creative and has such amazing vision. Many of you probably saw the pictures she took last August. Enough said. She's wonderful.

   The next detail I'm going to divulge isn't quite set in stone, but I'm confident enough to spill the beans. Old Bear Mountain (formerly known as A Sailor A Captive) will most likely be providing the music for the reception.
Yes please, and thank you.
They are a young group from Mead, WA who came out to the farmers market last summer and I fell in love with their music and style. I've since booked them for pretty much every event I'm involved in planning. They are currently recording a CD which everyone should own when it comes out. You can sample their stuff by following the link. And by the way, if Jackson grew up to be as responsible and respectful as Wade (their lead), I wouldn't be mad.

   This last detail is near and dear to my heart. Our cake will be made by Sawyer's Artisan Bakery. Let me tell you about these people:
Chris and I have absolutely fallen in love with this family. Matt and Jen have become dear friends since last spring. Their fam includes four boys (that's right... four boys) and anyone else who is willing to sit at their dinner table and eat Jen's gloriously delicious food. They are also opening a bakery in Davenport on January 24th. What makes them amazing, though, is that even through obstacles they are so giving.  How many of us can say that? I know that when I'm going through something difficult... or exciting... or life-changing in any way whatsoever, it's all about me (case in point: this blog). They are opening a business in less than two weeks and yet they continue to volunteer and assist our community in whatever way possible. Jen is constantly reminding me to be positive and caring of the people around me- no matter who they are. And she's hilarious. Man, I love this family! 

   It feels so great to get all the details out in story form. I look over the list of "vendors" that we've decided on so far and I realize they are all friends- they're all people we know and love. I can't wait to be fully surrounded by friends and family on our wedding day and to feel that love through every detail.   

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For my own sanity... A Temporary Blog Transformation.

What's this? Two posts in one week? I must have a sudden surge of free time. Or... not. Rather, I have so many things swirling around in my head, keeping me up at night and distracting me from the things I should be attentive to. These things cause me to reach for the closest form of chocolate and then put it back again because I tried on my mom's wedding dress this weekend and it didn't fit. To be honest, it will never fit. My mom is short and was little, tiny when she wore that dress on her wedding day. She's little, tiny now, but she was littler, tinier then. I, on the other hand, was graced with height- which I love, but let's be honest, I could stand to lose a few pounds. So I'm trying to be good. And not stress-eat. Which I do. Often.
But I digress...
As you know, I am recently engaged. And I am ecstatic! Yay! (see?) I feel the need to confess this though: Ever since Chris muttered the M word months ago I have been secretly planning my wedding. (well, Chris knew.) In fact, it's basically all planned in my head, but when people ask about the specifics I play stupid for fear of seeming too eager.
I've had a "wedding inspirations/planning" folder for months.
I feel like I've now been given the green light to execute my wonderfully creative ideas (and Chris's wonderfully creative ideas... I'm not the only one getting married here). The problem is that as soon as the light turned green all of those ideas went lurching forward and traffic jammed themselves at right about my forehead.
So if you don't mind, my blog will temporarily be transformed into a wedding planning blog. I hope I don't spoil any surprises for those who will be attending, but I need a place to digest everything.

I'm feeling the need to prioritize my thoughts on the wedding.
Priority #1: Chris and I love each other. We're not getting married to have a wedding, but instead to be life-long partners who love and support one another. Our wedding will be a reflection of who we are and of our love and commitment. Along with that, our children will be a big part of our wedding because they will be a big part of our marriage.
Priority #2: I've learned that weddings can get big and expensive very quickly. Our wedding will not be big and expensive. I plan to DIY until the cows come home for two reasons: Chris and I, unfortunately, do not have a money tree and I feel that DIY will allow us to truly reflect ourselves in every detail of the wedding.
Priority #3: We're going green. I'd like for our wedding to be as eco-friendly as possible. Now, the wording in that sentence feels a bit like a cop-out, but the fact of the matter is that our wedding will not be good for the environment unless we plan to walk to the middle of the forest somewhere in our birthday suites to plant a tree or we happen to be driving past the Hitching Post and decide to stop. We can, however, make conscious decisions to use local products and vendors, to not be wasteful and to keep it simple. I kinda like that tree planting idea though...

Much better.

I'll leave you, today, with some images and inspirations I like.
Please check out this inspiration board at Style Me Pretty. Perfect

Also, since we do have some things decided (okay... a lot of things decided), here's a little morsel for you.  The places where it will all go down:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Highlights and other things that shine.

It's 11pm on New Year's Eve. I'm sharing the sofa comfortably with Chris and the cat while Maus is curled up on the rug in front of us. There's a great fire crackling in the fireplace. Chris started it earlier, just before he ran to town to get me some cranberry juice. Man... I love that guy.
The kids both fell asleep long ago. Jason Mraz is appropriately serenading me with his opinion on humanity. We're waiting to ring in the new year and reflecting on the events of the past year as most everyone in the world is doing. Despite this perfect little scene I feel enormous amounts of angst. I always do this time of year. Maybe it's the finality of everything. Maybe it's the pressure of planning out an even better year for 2011. This year was pretty damn good and that's a lot of pressure.

Highlights for 2010:
  • Chris and I started officially dating in January (although we've dated before and have known each other for many years)
  • Jackson turned 1 in February. I still can't believe we made it through that first year and here we are, just barely over a month until his second birthday.
  • We got Maus in May. She came to us after she experienced the loss of her previous owner and has truly become part of the family.
  • The Big Red Barn Farmers Market started in June and had its first successful season.
  • I completed my first year working as the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for Lincoln Hospital District 3 this fall. I still enjoy the job and continue to learn almost more than I can handle about the medical field, health care reform and communications on a daily basis.
  • In writing this, I realize that my general feeling of contentment over the events of the past year come not from the big events like those listed above, but from the little things. The time Chris and I went camping, the first time we took the kids to Mobius, our bike trip in the rain, Greenbluff, the trips to Jackson Hole, sitting on the front porch watching the summer storms, my failed attempt at gardening that ended up making for a pretty good photo shoot, Bluegrass music, driving to Heppner to get my Grandma Judy's piano. painting the living room green and the kitchen orange, Fam-Damily Day... I can think of a million moments that made this year amazing.
One moment in particular occurred on Christmas Day. I was digging around in my stocking and came across a small, green, velvet box. The box felt too light to be what I thought it should be, but my heart skipped a couple beats anyway and I slowly opened it up... to find a piece of paper. That paper led to another and then another and then another. Finally, it led me back to my stocking which I had emptied earlier. Inside was a small, polished box. Again, my heart skipped a couple beats. I knew what was happening and I was trying to savor every single moment... to soak it in as though in slow motion. I opened the box to find... absolutely nothing. In that split second I second guessed everything I thought was going on. Maybe it was just a really, really bad joke. In which case, I had determined that I would then break up with Chris and deem this the worst Christmas ever.
I looked up to meet Chris's eyes. They were so intent, so genuine, so loving. I knew it wasn't a joke. And then he simply said, "Merry Christmas, Carey. I love you so much. Will you marry me?" and he slipped the most beautiful ring on my finger. I, of course, said yes- followed by something brilliant like, "I already told you I would marry you..." (obviously we had discussed this previously and apparently I felt the need to remind him of this). In the background, my mom was saying something brilliant like, "She's too young to get married!" while furiously snapping pictures.
Right there, on Christmas morning, in front of Jackson and my parents, Chris proposed to me. I had just gotten out of bed, had no make-up on, was in my pajamas and didn't even care. It was rightfully the highlight of my year.