Old Habits

Something miraculous happened today. Well, maybe not miraculous. But it was certainly a change for me.

I was faced with the triggering situation I’ve mentioned in other posts and I feel like I reverted back to old habits. (You know the saying!) I obsessed and felt guilty and ashamed of what I was doing.

But one thing changed.

I always end up going for a walk to try and clear my mind and when I reach a certain spot with my favorite view (I call it my mountaintop), I pause and let the emotions wash over me. Usually this ends with me clutching my phone to my chest while sobbing and feeling sorry for myself and trying to decide whether I want to burden a friend with my sob story.

But as I approached that spot today, the only way I can explain it is that it felt like I was revisiting the scene of a crime. Or the scene of a great tragedy. Things were visually very different–the big open field is starting to get developed–but it was more than that. It was that feeling a character in a suspense novel gets at the end of the story. You know, when they go back to the place where they had that really big fight and someone “accidentally” dies. (I’ve been reading a lot of those books lately…) It felt like a line was drawn. I looked around and had memories of those days, but this was a new beginning. Things were physically and emotionally very different. But also exactly the same.

As I approached the fence and started to let down my guard, I was startled by my gut reaction.

I prayed.

I actually prayed out loud for the strength and courage and confidence to get through this situation. I tried to contain sobs and admitted that I can’t do this alone and that I need help.

I was so humbled by the beauty in front of me. Yes, things were changing. There was the beginning of a road, a fire hydrant and construction trucks. But it was still the same view I’ve been admiring for years. The tall grasses still blew in the wind, the birds still flocked to the pond, the butterflies and dragonflies still floated through the grasses, the big, strong Oaks still rustled their leaves. Everything was the same and yet, everything was completely different.

I turned around, crouched down and completely lost it. The tears kept flowing as the prayer became internal.

Eventually the tears stopped and I felt the need to circle around, walk it off and return to the same spot. As I walked, I felt more and more at peace. Words and phrases kept popping up in my mind and by the time I got back to my “mountaintop” I knew what I wanted to say.

I did end up calling a friend, but not with my sob story. I explained that things have been different lately. Better. I told her I wanted to tell her more about it in person sometime soon.

I haven’t talked with anyone about my new-found faith. I’ve kept it to myself because I don’t want to be that Jesus freak. I haven’t told my parents because while they would appreciate that I’ve come around, I don’t think they would quite understand why I don’t agree with them on all aspects. We’ve also had cryptic conversations about faith being a personal thing that you don’t need to vocalize to others. My friends all grew up in a church–not necessarily mine–and it’s just never been a major talking point for us.

But I’m ready to share. I want to be able to talk about it with someone who might understand. So I called a friend whose family has gone to our church for more than 10 years. (In fact, I saw her at church this morning!) She grew up in a much more openly religious family, but we’ve never really talked about it.

This is a big step for me. I’m nervous, but I’m also excited. I’m mostly just relieved to finally let those old habits die.

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Right Now

You guys.

It’s been a week.

Oh, man.

Nothing big happened, but a whole lotta small things happened.

I had a whole post written up that I was going to publish last week, but (thankfully) when I went to hit “Publish” it was dinner time and I decided I’d read through it one more time before sending it out into the blogosphere.

It always bothers me that we don’t do anything special for summer holidays and my friends and their families do, but for some reason it hit me especially hard last weekend. I fleshed out my feelings about the subject in the almost-post and ended up actually expressing it (quite emotionally, I might add) to my parents at dinner. We finished dinner with the understanding that we would treat the weekend as a staycation.

Luckily, the weather helped us out. It was the hottest Memorial Day on record here and the high temperature never dipped below 90° for 6 days. It was too hot to do anything outside, so we spent most of the weekend in/by the pool, experimenting with Mai Tai recipes, making (and receiving) far too many sweet treats, catching up on The Crown, whipping up fancy brunches for friends (just call me Martha!) and falling in love with our hometown all over again. It may not have been the lake, but it was one of the best Memorial Day weekends I can remember.

By Tuesday, I was actually missing the kids. And this was the last week of “normal” scheduling before things start getting topsy turvy for the summer, so I was determined to take it all in and enjoy every minute.

Spoiler alert: not every minute was worth remembering. And it rained. Almost. Every. Day.

On top of that, I was feeling pretty sluggish and disappointed from all of the indulging I was doing over the weekend.

Lots of familiar thoughts started popping up and it was exhausting trying to quiet them.

But I did.

I dove headfirst into a new book, made exercise a priority again, started saying no to that second slice of cake (and banana bread and ice cream sandwich and cookie…), made a new get-up-and-go playlist and started looking at minutes and hours instead of days, weeks and months.

I’m realizing that while I’m a planner and actually enjoy planning out months at a time, it’s healthier for me to focus on right now. 

Right now my nephew is sleeping, my niece is playing Barbies, my dad is mowing the lawn and my mom is off to help a friend finish a big project. Yes, later today I will be tested. Chaos will ensue and I will probably lose my cool. Tears will be shed and food will be thrown.

But right now I’m sitting in the sun in my favorite spot with my favorite dog doing what I love. Enjoying the peace.

It may only last a few more minutes, but that’s all I need.

Right now everything is good.

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December?

Whoops.

I think I accidentally fast forwarded to December.

Allow me to explain: it’s the first snow of the season up here in Gray Duck country. End of explanation. It all spiraled from there.

Last night, in anticipation of the snow (and just the general transition to frigid temperatures), we (I) decided it was time to move the porch furniture inside for the season. That involved shifting a lot of furniture throughout the whole house. But I was determined to get it done because once everything was in its winter position, I could set up the newest addition to our Christmas decorations out on the porch: a giant (fake, obviously) Christmas tree!

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(Our last surviving pumpkin is sitting proudly next to the tree!)

This morning I woke up to snow flurries. The ground was still green, but the snow continued to pick up. It just started to taper now about 6 hours later. We now have a few inches of snow piled up on our deck!

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I wasn’t expecting to be so excited about it! Usually the first snow of the season is kind of depressing. Here we go again. But not this time! This time I was listening to Christmas music while getting ready, thinking about Christmas movies, Christmas cookies, Christmas cards, end of the year calendars, presents for the kidlets. And then I remembered it’s not even Halloween yet.

I don’t even care! I just went for a walk through the gorgeousness, again listening to Christmas music (what up, Mr. Bublé?!), and actually teared up at how incredible it all was.

My parents have been telling me that they’ve noticed something changing in me lately. They’ve seen how thankful I am for everything and how much I appreciate my life. That really struck me today. It’s been a perfect day so far, but it hasn’t been out of the ordinary at all. We usually have the kids on Fridays, but we got today off so I’ve been taking advantage of the free day.

I’ve been able to find something to be grateful for in every situation. And when I’m in that place, I feel it. Deeply.

Isn’t that what I said December (and Christmas) was all about?

But, wait. It’s still October! Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and then Merry Christmas!

Screw it!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Snow Day

It snowed today. And I was not smiling about it…until my plans were canceled and I didn’t have to go anywhere. Then it was beautiful!  It didn’t amount to much, but the ground and trees are white. It should–should–be gone by Sunday so we can have our annual Easter bonfire. But this is Minnesota, so you never know.

Meanwhile, inside, JuJu was decorating for Easter, loving on her puppy, and eating a balanced meal of cake and pudding (she actually did have an extremely well balanced meal before earning her cake and pudding).

Poor Cocoa. He’s such a good puppy.

I guess it turned out to be a pretty good day! The snow won’t last and my sixty-degree days will be back before you know it!

Once again, I learned not to judge a day by its morning.

Wee Bit of Snow

We got a little bit of snow last week.

Just a little bit, though.

No, but seriously, it was the biggest storm of the season…and we only got about 5 inches. Which, growing up in a state where we could get a foot of snow overnight and still have to go to school, is really not a lot. The roads were a little more slick than usual and people momentarily forgot how to drive, but everything worked out. And now we have this beautiful new snow cover! (Our yard was starting to look green again!)

Cocoa was SO happy! I was working when the snow started and luckily, was able to leave early. When I got home, this guy ran to the door and begged to be let out! I went out with him to get some pictures and he was like a kid on the last day of school. He was free! He refused to come inside.

We also got this little one out in the snow! She was okay with walking on the driveway, but was very, very concerned about walking in the snow. We lured her out there with the promise of seeing her LLAMAS (she always screams that word). She even got to pet our friendliest llama, Millie. But then we tried to get her to play in the snow with us and that wasn’t as successful. My mom and I both wanted to sled down some of the snow piles, so we did it by ourselves, hoping she would think it looked fun. Well, she didn’t. But, I took her down with me anyways! She enjoyed Cocoa kissing her when we got to the bottom, but did not enjoy the rest of the process! (Two days later she wanted to sled down the snow piles!)

We checked out the snow sculptures at the Winter Carnival last weekend and Juliana’s highlight, and therefore our highlight, was running into this massive Great Dane! She expects every dog to be as friendly and cuddly as Cocoa, so she walked right up to it with an open mouth and outstretched arms, ready for a hug and a kiss. Luckily, this dog was very friendly. The owner even let J sit on the dog! Those were the biggest smiles of the day.

Living in Minnesota, we learn to live with, and thrive in, the snow. J definitely brought out my inner child and, even though she may not love it right now, has reminded me how much I love it! It’s fun to have these storms every now and then! But, I’m good with an early spring, too!

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So Many Stories

I have so many pictures and so many stories that I’d like to share with you all, but it’s hard to know where to begin. After looking through all the pictures, I’ve decided to start with the non-Juliana version and I’ll follow up later this week with the Juliana version, since she pretty much consumes my thoughts. That girl gives me enough pictures and stories to fill up way more than just one post!

So here’s what I’ve been up to for the past two months, excluding Juliana.


It was my mom’s birthday.

 

We surprised her at work with an orchid and her favorite lunch: root beer and a tomato sandwich. We also surprised her with flowers and sappy cards when she got home! What a lucky lady!

It was my brother’s birthday.

I added a new feature wall in my bathroom.

We picked grapes. (Many, many, many, many more pails than just this)

We made grape juice. (Many, many more batches than just this)

 

My poppies bloomed.

  

My Begonia bloomed.

 

We cleaned out the pantry.

The leaves turned.

 

I picked lots of Hydrangeas.

There were pears on our tree.

 

But the birds got them first.

I made cookies.

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Apples fell.

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We made many apple pies, dehydrated apples and apple roses.

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Tomatillos fell.

We made lots of salsa verde.

I carved a pumpkin.

And then I carved a bigger pumpkin.

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And then I carved a baby pumpkin.

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Charlie was…Charlie. (That’s Cocoa’s collar)

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And Cocoa continued to be the sweetest.


I’ll follow up later this week with all of the (abbreviated) Juliana stories from the past 2 months!

Twenty One

Yesterday was my birthday. I so wanted to be writing about how my twenty first birthday was the best yet. There were so many reasons for it to be. But, of the birthdays I can remember, it ranks near the bottom. I’m not a big fan of alcohol, so going out to a bar was never even a consideration for me. All I wanted was a day with my niece followed by a family dinner and some champagne. And that is what I got. But nothing went above and beyond that in any way. I went to bed feeling disappointed and hoping that this wasn’t foreshadowing the year ahead.

So, I’ve decided to write a shortened version of the post I wanted to write anyways. But now it isn’t about looking good; it’s about reminding myself of my many blessings. In the grand scheme of things, an off birthday doesn’t matter that much. But being grateful for all of my blessings is one of the most, if not the most, important things I can do in my life.

So, here goes. Instead of writing about twenty one of the things I am most grateful for, here are a few of the things that had me counting my blessings this week.


Since J learned how to play the rope game, one of Cocoa’s ropes has been rapidly unraveling. I got him a new rope for MY birthday. That’s how much I love him! He was so excited and it has become his new favorite!

This weirdo was on a roll the other night. My dad told him he was wonderful and all of a sudden he was begging for corn (and eating some) and following us out to the pool. He kept a safe distance, but he even walked back in with us after the swim. When I settled in on the couch, he snuggled up next to me and started purring. He is by far my favorite cat.

That same night, we had a spectacular sunset! I’m a sucker for a good sunset!

She was feeling a little under the weather yesterday, but her puppy made her smile within the first three minutes of her arrival at grandma’s house! Nothing can melt me faster than that smile.

This guy is so good at conversing with animals and babies. It takes me back to the days when I called him “daddy” and makes me so excited for the days when J can finally understand and laugh at her grandpa. (Although she already laughs at him several times a day)

This. Cake. It may be the best decision I made yesterday. Mmmmm. Extra moist vanilla cake with raspberry filling and whipped cream. We also made some homemade vanilla ice cream to go with it. It was simply divine.

One week old. Hard to believe that we’ll be celebrating her first birthday in less than two months!

I think the best few minutes of my week happened yesterday morning when J fell asleep on me. There’s something so special about a baby falling asleep in your arms. As I looked down at her, I couldn’t believe how big she’s gotten! Most of our interaction during her first few months consisted of her sleeping on me. But, she’s almost one. Time flies.


Even though the first day of my twenty first year wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, I am encouraged by the fact that there were still moments of complete joy sprinkled in. No matter what this next year holds, I’m looking forward to more of those moments.