Baby Steps

I used a pun to title this post.  Just making sure I still know how to use a pun.  Also, just making sure I still know how to blog.

It’s been awhile.  A long while.  When I started this blog, I was a “career woman,” out in the real world, sharing my daily debacles as I stumbled through life working, maintaining our home, and attempting “domestic goddess” status.  I had a lot to share, and a lot of time to share it.

Nowadays, I strive to take a shower.

I don’t want this to become another “Mommy blog,” because, as much as I’m in love with our new son, and as much as I am adoring my new career as a stay-at-home mom (striving to be promoted to domestic engineer), I’m still trying to find the balance of meeting the little guy’s needs, maintaining the kind of home Ryan and I are accustomed to (and, in fact, the kind of home we both need in order to stay sane), and keeping two men and a dog fed (that sounds like a weird movie, doesn’t it?) while also trying to find time to keep doing my “me” things.  That sounds selfish, doesn’t it?  Except that in concept, it’s really not…God, I hope it’s not.  Ryan needs his time with the little one when he gets home from work.  And I do occasionally like to take a break from the kitchen and laundry to read a book, take a bath, do my nails, or write a blog.  And Clohe is the kind of dog who still needs to be the center of attention, so we have been trying to keep up with her therapy visits.  (And this is a lot of parentheses and sentence fragments.  Apparently, my writing skills are slipping).  And if I’m showered, dressed (in jeans, not sweats!), and can apply a bit of make-up and do something with my wildly-out-of-control hair before 6 pm… well, that’s a big bonus.   

And so recently, what with the little man sleeping 8-ish hour stretches at night (hallelujah!), I’ve been taking baby steps back into the kitchen.  This weekend, I made a crock pot chicken cacciatore, these grocery store-style sugar cookies, a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and a batch of homemade salted caramel sauce that I plan to substitute in the cheesecake recipe I’m contributing to Thanksgiving dinner with Ryan’s family. 

Most weeknight meals lately have been chicken; I’ve found that cooking a whole fryer chicken on the weekends when Ryan is home, then portioning it out and leaving it in the fridge makes dinnertime much easier, since the most time-consuming part is already done.  When I can, I’ve made extra of whatever we’re having, and put half a meal into the freezer for later.  Or, if it’s been a really rough day, Ryan just has to entertain the baby while I throw something together quickly.  In fact, last Monday night, Ryan came home to find me sacked out on the loveseat with the baby, nothing started for dinner.  Fortunately, my pre-portioned chicken idea saved the night, and dinner was ready in less than twenty minutes.

So, I’m working on getting the cleaning-with-a-baby-in-the-house routine down.  Cooking and baking are also works in progress.  And so the next item on my list is blogging. 

Baby steps, friends.  Baby steps.

My Dog and I Have the Same Sense of Humor. And I’m Kind of OK With It

When Derek and I were little, my mom used to rake up huge piles of leaves for us to jump in.

There was one stipulation: once we were finished jumping in the leaves, we had to help scoop them up, into these giant orange trash bags that had pumpkin designs on the front.  The pumpkin-leaf bags would sit in our front yard as decoration for Halloween, and then would be discarded.  It was kind of genius for Mom to use this logic: first, she had helpers to rake the leaves, because we always wanted the biggest pile possible.  Secondly, once we were done jumping, we got to help fill these awesome decoration bags.  We were willing to do yard work.  In other words, we were suckers.

Fast forward two decades, and I’m still always anxious to get outside to rake leaves.  In years past, time has been limited and we haven’t always gotten around to it.  But these days, my calendar is wide open.  And this week, the weather has been far too perfect to tend to my indoor chores, so I picked up the rake and went outside.

Monday I did some picking up and burned some sticks and things around the property.  Today, I raked.

Oh, and apparently?  That sixth sense parents have when their child is getting into mischief never goes away.  Because as I raked my gigundo pile of leaves into which I planned to propel my body, my mom called, to ask a question and also to see what I was into today.  While I was talking to her, my Daddy called me, just to check on me since I hadn’t talked to him in awhile.  Daddy doesn’t call very often, because he doesn’t really like the phone, and also because his location changes frequently so his service changes accordingly, and he’s usually in bad service areas.  My parents knew, from a distance of over 150 miles, that I was about to do something stupid.

And, yes, what I proceeded to do next does qualify as stupid.  Mostly because I’m supposed to be a mature, responsible adult, but also because I was mostly alone.  As in, except for my dog.  But we did it anyway, and we had a blast.

Dance like nobody is watching, right friends?

Happy Fall!

xoxo,

~d

Pumpkin Farm- Part I

One of my favorite memories from childhood was our annual trips to the pumpkin farm.  There was a place about 40 minutes from where we lived that Mom would take us to pick our would-be jack-‘o’-lanterns.  Derek and I would ponder for what seemed like forever- usually making it a competition to see who got the bigger one.  There was also a little shop at the farm where Mom always shopped for crafts and gourds and Indian corn; it was her reward to herself after enduring any length of time with my brother and me and our constant bickering.  That’s all she wanted: some cute little craft, a couple of gourds, and a bunch or two of Indian corn.

“Punkin pickin'” is still part of our fall tradition here in the Merrow household.  Every year when the leaves start to change and the weather starts to cool, Ryan starts asking when I’ll be ready to go.  He likes to plan the outing.  And picking a pumpkin is, for both of us, very serious business.  In the six years since we’ve lived here, I think there have only been one or two that we haven’t had pumpkins.  Sometimes they come from WalMart.  Last year they came from the buffalo farm up the road.  I think once we even dragged a few from Punxsy- from my sister’s pumpkin patch that she plants and lovingly tends every single year.  We just haven’t found that special place yet to make our new tradition.

This past weekend was miserable: cold, windy, and rainy.  It was the perfect weekend to stay inside and eat chili and drink cider.  But by yesterday, I needed to get out and DO something.  Anything.  So when he asked the question, “when did you want to go get pumpkins?  I found this new place we should check out,” I had made the decision and jumped in the shower before he finished asking.  We were going, rain or not.

It was cold.  It was raining.  The wind was blowing and the place was deserted despite the rows of cars in the parking lot.  We approached the admission window for some information, while I said a little “thank you” to my aunties for the Uggs they bought me last Christmas; the rest of me may have been freezing, but my feet were toasty, and for that I was thankful.

When the one lonely lady manning the booth slid the window aside to let us in, she began to run down the list of attractions the farm offers: “Oh, we do hay rides and the haunted corn maze…but they don’t recommend that for kids under ten.  And there are slides over there…you know, for the kids…and there’s a petting zoo…for the kids…and… Oh!  The white barn over there has a cafe and craft shop.  There’s a corn box…for the kids… and over here, you can pick your pumpkins.  So…will you be trying any of the attractions today?”

This was sort of a strange question, and I, at least, was a bit thrown off.  After all, we were alone.  No kids in tow, no stroller, no car seat.  We were alone.  Just the two of us.  Finally, after exchanging a look with Ryan, I responded by saying, “It’s so miserable out today, I think we’ll just check out the craft store and buy some pumpkins.”  This statement saved us the admission fee that’s charged for the other attractions.  Armed with wrist bands, we entered the farm and headed for the barn.

The atmosphere there was a fun one; as we entered, Ryan said it reminded him of what he would expect to find at Roloff Farms of Little People, Big World fame.  There was a small cafe in one corner, with picnic tables lining the walls, and a game of corn hole set up in the center aisle.  In the back corner was nestled a small, cozy primitives shop.  We walked through, staying long enough to see everything, and headed back out to tackle the task of tracking down some pumpkins to take home with us.

There were so many pumpkins to choose from, I got confused.  I would point out one that had a good shape, vibrant color, substantial size, and was consistently round, and then promptly lose it.  Ryan would find one that looked perfect from the front, but was completely planar on the opposite side.  If we pondered and walked around for five minutes, we were there for forty-five.  Finally, we settled on two that were similar in size, shape, and color, and headed for the check-out booth.  Ryan carried them while my eyes wandered to the potted Mums and the boxes of gourds and cooking squashes.  We noticed some wagons, provided to help patrons “cart” their finds out of the patch, and I snagged one in order to continue shopping.  Once Ryan had dropped the two large pumpkins onto the wagon, he immediately suggested we pick out a pumpkin for Clohe.  He found her a smaller one that was perfectly round and perfectly orange, and urged me to pick some gourds to take home.  While I pondered over those, he checked out the pie pumpkins.  “Babe,” he called to me, “do you use these?”  I turned to look, and admitted that I never had, but I knew that they were used for all the wonderful recipes canned pumpkin is used for.  “I could bake a pumpkin pie from scratch,” I said, wheels turning.  He picked out three for me to bring home.

With a new project to focus my energies on, I couldn’t sit still when we got home.  I hauled my gourds and pie pumpkins into the kitchen to wash, while Ryan balanced our future jack-‘o’-lanterns to carry to the front porch.  And I set to work…

 

More to come!

xoxo,

~d

The (Wet) Dog Days

I think summer has finally arrived here.  Finally.  And while some might complain about the unbearable heat and the humidity thick enough to drink, you won’t hear a word from me.  Because I, for one, love this weather.

My hair does not.  But that, my friends, is one concern I’ll overlook through these next couple of months.  Because I love the heat that much.

I love summer.  I love the heat.  I love ice cream stands and mini golf and motorcycle rides and days at the beach and driving with the sunroof open, windows down, and my favorite oldies blasting on the radio.  I love my summer wardrobe, which is far more extensive than my winter one even though winters here last nearly four times as long as summers.  I love my flip-flops and sunglasses and fresh produce and grilling.  I love campfires and cold sangria and margaritas and pina coladas and mojitos.  I. love. summer.

So does Clohe.  She loves the days when I put her outside first thing in the morning and let her flit about the backyard, chasing butterflies and bumblebees and basking in the sun.  She loves lying in the driveway and watching the cars go by and turning her face to absorb the sun’s brilliant rays.  She loves chasing her stick across the yard and teasing Ryan and me with it.  She loves walking at the lake and going swimming.

Unfortunately, this week it’s been much too hot to put her outside unless she needs to go.  She’ll follow me outside with my loads of laundry, watch me pin the clothing to the line from the shade of the trees in the back yard, and then follow me back in.  And when she needs to go outside alone, she goes about her business and comes back to the door, ready to retreat to air-conditioning and cold water and shade.

Tonight, guilt got  the better of me since she’d been stuck in the house all day long.  So I gathered up her leash and her collar and her water-toy my mom got her for Easter and we headed down to the lake.

The only thing not so cute about this photo? The smell. Be glad you're just reading about it, friends,

 

I didn’t have to do much coercing to get her to go into the water.  Throwing her pink toy and shouting, “Go get it!” seemed to suffice.  Of course, once she got in the water, her A.D.D. kicked in and she focused on the ducks swimming nearby and the little girl fishing about fifty yards away from us.  Still, she reluctantly retrieved the toy and brought it back to me.  The second time I attempted this tactic, though, she had no interest in obliging.  Instead, she swam to it, pushed it in my general vicinity with her neck, and continued to swim parallel to the rocks where I balanced precariously, digging my toenails into the moss-coated rocks, holding up my maxi-dress with one hand and reaching for her toy with the other.  I probably would have been farther ahead to forgo the hand holding my dress, since by the time I got my hand on the toy, I had waded in to my knees anyway.  On top of that, since it’s so warm out, the lake water was warm enough that it didn’t really feel all that refreshing to me…or to Clohe, who emerged right behind me, ready to continue our walk.

"Come on, Mom, let's go! There's so much more to see and do!"

Here’s the thing about my girl: she’s a very impatient fast powerful exuberant walker.  When we start off, she gets so excited by the prospect of the people (you know, ones who will pay attention to her, since she’s so obviously neglected at home) and wildlife (tonight: ducks, a chipmunk, a few bunnies and some birds, plus other assorted domesticated canines) that she can’t wait to get going.  When we start off, she seems to forget that she’s supposed to be a “special” dog and she’s supposed to be trained to be on her best behavior at all times.  She’ll strain against her leash to greet said people and wildlife, while I struggle to restrain her and try to hide my face from anyone who might turn me in to ASPCA for choking her in a vain effort to keep the beast under control.  Pet owners whose animals trot along calmly by their heels shoot me disgusted or sometimes pitying looks that my dog “just isn’t there yet,” and “maybe I’ll get her there someday.”  One of my favorites: “Who’s walking who, here?”  At those moments I clench my fingers tightly around the leash to keep all four fingers together and held by my thumb, lest one rebel and wave itself at these haughty show-offs.

The funny thing is, once we hit our halfway point, my little angel gets so pooped out that she becomes one of those pets who trots along calmly by my heels while I shoot disgusted or pitying looks at those whose dogs “just aren’t there yet.”

Maybe they’ll get there someday.

xoxo,

~d

As American as our Traditions…Whatever They May Be

Hm.  I missed Monday again.

I tried; I really did.  I wanted to post some cute little patriotic memo yesterday about how lucky we are to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  I wanted to talk about cookouts and family gatherings and fireworks and mosquito bites and baseball games.  I wanted to talk about drinking beers and margaritas and Pina Coladas and Kool Aid for the lil’ ‘uns.  I wanted to talk about Cornhole and Bocci and flashlight tag and croquet.  Never mind the fact that baseball bores me to tears, beer gives me a bellyache, margaritas and pina coladas are too much work for one person to drink from them, and I have never in my life played any of the four games listed above.  Never mind all that.

(Ed. note: as I worked on this blog, I was interrupted by a conversation that went something like this:

R: Can I show you something that I know doesn’t interest you?

D: Sure.  I can tell you’re excited about it; show me

R: (proceeds to show me a clip from a baseball game involving some bad call, and the coach’s irate reaction to said call.)  See?  This is why you gotta watch baseball.

D: Um, but is it really worth watching three hours’ worth of a game for that two minutes’ worth of conflict?  Isn’t that why God invented SportCenter?

R: …I guess…)

Because regardless of what traditional, um, tradition says we should do, the beauty of July 4 is that we are all free to do what makes America home to us.  So Friday while Ryan was at work, I made a pitcher of Sangria, using this recipe.  I stocked up on hamburger buns and pork chops and cheddar-wurst for the grill.  Friday night, after watching “The Social Network” from our Netflix queue, I challenged my far-more-athletic-than-me husband to a competitive round of mini golf (“competitive” as it might have been, we both did terribly enough that we didn’t bother to tally the score.   We both would have been mortified, I’m sure.).  We took the motorcycle, and when we got home, he installed the window air-conditioner in the kitchen while I grilled cheddar-wurst and assembled some boxed mac’n’cheese for dinner.  Gourmet, I tell you.  We are 100% gourmet in this house.

IMAGE_101.jpg

Saturday, Ryan packed up his RC gear and went out to race for the day, while I prepared for a “girls’ day” with my newlywed friend Nicole…

photo from Nic's wedding-day arsenal...

and Saturday night was spent at home, dining on some grilled teryaki-marinated pork chops and rice, with corn on the cob and fresh green beans.

Sunday, Ryan made a suggestion I don’t believe I’ve ever heard from his mouth before: he suggested that we ride the motorcycle to the local wineries and stock up on our favorites.  It’s been awhile since we went to the wineries together, so it was a special treat to share with him some of the newer ones I’ve discovered with my friend Bekah and her fiance Kasey.  We made a day of it, biking from place to place; he kept a careful eye on my consumption to be sure I didn’t become so inebriated that I might fall off the back of the bike, and he sipped very little.  Still, it was a fun and (for us) different way to spend a summer weekend afternoon.

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In turn, I succumbed to the idea of attending more late-model races Sunday night, but when we got there the place was packed, so we turned around and left.  We settled instead for heading to the local amusement park for a funnel cake and some people-watching, but we both were so frustrated by the decorum of our local demographic, we left before the fireworks we had gone to see in the first place, had started.  We got home just in time to see the sunset from our front yard in the most gorgeous array of perfect sunset colors…

And Ryan stole my camera insisting we needed to add a photo of me to the photo collection.  I disagreed, so here’s my compromise:

Pink and orange...coexisting peacefully like the sunset.  Yup, that's us!

Happy Independence Day, friends.

Yesterday, for the fourth, we started the day by going out for breakfast to our favorite weekend-morning breakfast place.  Later, we met up with friends of Ryan’s from high school for dinner and fireworks.

And finally, today was back to the grind.  Ryan returned to work, and Clohe and I headed to the library to volunteer.  We came home to this surprise in the back yard:

And so, friends, I hope your fourth of July weekend was filled with all those wonderful things that make America wonderful for you.

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

Livin’ the Dream

Wow.  June has somehow completely disappeared right out from under me.  Ask me what I’ve accomplished.

Just don’t expect an answer.

I’ve been off work for over a month now.  I’ve used my time off judiciously: cleaning, volunteering at the library with Clohe, and having a full-course cooked meal on the table every single night.  Ok, well, all of that except the cooking, I guess.  Otherwise, though, I haven’t really done much.  I’ve slept in.  I’ve spent days on the sofa reading.  I’ve walked load after load of laundry to our back yard to be line-dried in the summer sun. I’ve pulled weeds from the garden, scooped the dog poop from the grass, and had an adventure or two with the lawnmower. But seriously, that does not account for where the rest of my time has gone.  Obviously, I haven’t used my free time to brush up on my writing skills.  Nor have I used it to get my, shall we say lumpy, physique into a more toned version for our upcoming beach vacation.  And, seriously, with all this free time on my hands somehow my creative juices seem to be completely frozen.

I have, however, noticed that I’ve been having some very strange dreams lately.  Perhaps the product of such a dull existence?  (Well, dull for me anyway, when I’m used to always being on the go.  I’m one of those freaks of nature who works to her maximum potential under only the most impossibly stressful conditions.)  Take, for instance, the dream I had that my friend Katy and I went skydiving together.  Now, this has always been an item on my bucket list and something I vow to accomplish before my time on this earth is done.  And if anyone will do it with me, it’s definitely Katy.  In fact, when I mentioned this dream to her, her prompt response was “when are we going???”   I love her.

Then there was the dream that my friend Janelle and I decided to have a party at my house while Ryan was at work.  Janelle is definitely my Party Friend, and one of Ryan’s favorites among all my girls.  The strange part of this dream was that when Ryan found out Janelle and I were having a party, he stayed at work and refused to come home.  This is the exact opposite of what his real reaction would be.  He would leave work early to come home and drink with Janelle and me, if he could.  But he would never, ever stay away.  ‘

The third, and strangest, of all these dreams was of my last boss.  Ryan and I have known her and her husband for several years, and though we never really spent much time together until we worked in the same office (and even then, we saw little of one another), we’ve always gotten along very well.  The strange part of this dream is that we went shopping together.  She does not shop.  At least, not like I do, as a “lady’s day out” treat.

All these strange dreams had me curious, and since I’ve always been a believer in dream-decoding and horoscopes and all that stuff others may see as silliness, I looked them up.  (My source is this website, and I always find it to be very accurate.)

It seems that dreaming of my friends, in the context I can apply to where I am right now, “is signify[ing] aspects of your personality that you have rejected, but are ready to incorporate and acknowledge. The relationships you have with those around you are important in learning about yourself. Alternatively, dreaming of a friend, indicates positive news.”  Positive news?  Bring it on.  I could definitely use some of that.

The dream of my boss apparently indicates “the bossy or authoritative side of your own personality. Your boss may reveal  self-confidence and the assertive aspect of yourself. It is telling of your issues of control and authority.”  Bossy side?  Moi?  Oldest of five and self-proclaimed pants-wearer?  Um, ok.  But issues of control and authority?  That makes me kind of think of Meryl Streep’s character Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada.

Image courtesy MTV.com

I’d give you a photo of me for comparison, but apparently (and my husband is adamantly supporting this claim) I’m a photo-phobe.  Put me behind the camera, please, but never ever in front of it.  Ever.  I hate having my photograph taken.  I shudder to think of it.   Regardless, I don’t think there’s much resemblance between myself and the amazing Ms. Streep.

Perhaps there’s some part of my subconscious mind encouraging me to follow my dream- to live my dream- through my dreams.  Huh.  My subconscious has a sense of humor.  That makes me feel a little better.

Seriously, though, these three women (who have only once ever been in the same place at the same time, on our wedding day) may not know one another, but they all have very similar strong, independent personalities.  All three are the kind of women who don’t take “no” for an answer, and don’t let the standing of “being of the fairer sex” stand in their way.  If my dreams are revealing that I, too, fall within those ranks, then perhaps it’s time I get up off the sofa and do something to earn it.

Not just in my dreams.

Till next time, I’ll be livin’ the dream…

xoxo,

~d

Tales that Wag Keep Idle Hands Busy

Since the new carpeting is in, making our house essentially spotless (HA!), I was left with nothing to do this week.  Go on, hate me.  I know you do.

However, since I’m still fighting the “idle hands” cliche, I couldn’t possibly have allowed myself to lie around the house all week.  Well,  I could have, but it really doesn’t do pretty things to my already-fragile self esteem when I do.  So Monday morning, I dragged my half-conscious self out of bed and into the shower shortly before 8AM.  (Really not helping you to not hate me, am I?)  It’s been a couple of weeks since I’d been up so early, and I think I was midway through my shower before my eyes actually opened.

When Clohe realized she was going to get to go with me (since I kind of have to prep her beforehand, to start letting off steam before I actually put her into an enclosed space for any period of time), she pretty much exploded with puppy excitement.  She paced up and down the newly-carpeted hallway, following me between the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom to ensure I had not, in fact, forgotten about her.  When I filled her water bottle, picked up her “going out” bag (you know, like a diaper bag for my dog, containing extra collars and leashes; her collapsible and portable doggie water dish; and her water toy and blankey) and let her walk out the door in front of me, she was in heaven.  She didn’t even know where she was going, and she couldn’t wait to get there.

How mean would it have been of me if I had taken her to the vet?

Of course, that wasn’t on the agenda.  And besides, Clohe loves the vet.  People talk to her and pet her there.

But where we were going was much more fun than the vet.

We went to the public library.

Yes, after months and months of planning, we finally have begun our therapy dog reading program, which we’ve called “Tales that Wag.”  It felt good to be there on the first day, after having attended all the meetings this past winter and thinking that I probably would miss the daytime visits due to my work schedule.  It felt good to see the reactions of the kids, coming into the library and seeing the awe in their faces when they met the dogs who were there to be read to: there was Martin and his human Sue; Sophie and her pal Lorraine, Milo and his handler Mary, and little Webster with his “Momma,” my auntie.  In true fashion, Clohe was the wild child in the group, straining against her leash to get to the kids whose very demeanor held the promise of love and attention that our dog clearly does not find at home (ahem.).  Fortunately, once we found a spot to sit down and I spread out her “reading blankey” (all the other dogs have homemade blankets with doggie patterns on them;  I haven’t used a sewing machine in ages and procrastinated on making my own.  Then I was saved by finding a plain navy blue blanket that needed no stitching- in the back of my car!  Score!) she was much calmer.  Especially once she realized that the kids were coming to her.  All those dogs in that room, and some of them actually. Chose. Her.

The library also provided all the dog/handler teams with stickers, featuring the dog’s photograph and the phrase, “I read to (dog’s name)”.  Each child who read to Clohe was given a sticker to take with them, and once the child has accumulated a certain number of stickers, will get to choose a book to keep.  This is the photo we used on Clohe’s stickers:

Deceiving, huh?  She actually looks calm.  Normal.

Bwahahahaha!

Tuesday morning was much the same, except that there were lots more kids, and they were a bit older.  I think one of the most rewarding moments (for me, and probably for Clohe as well) was the little girl who brought her book to our blanket, and snuggled herself in so that her back was resting on Clohe’s belly.  Then she turned the book so Clohe could see the pictures, while she read with one hand and absentmindedly stroked Clohe’s coat with the other.  Clohe rested her chin on the girl’s knee, and the two of them looked so content that all  I could do was watch.

I wish I had been able to take my camera, but we signed confidentiality forms before we had any contact with the kids, since the program is specifically designed for- but is not limited to- children with reading difficulties.  Regardless, the two mornings we spent with the children were, for the two of us, incredibly successful.  We can’t wait to go back!

Until next time…

xoxo,

~d

Sunday

Call me crazy, but Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week.

Yes, it’s sort of bittersweet, being so closely followed by Monday and all, but just think about it for a second: how many artists have recorded songs about Sunday?

Maroon Five: Sunday Morning

Backstreet Boys: Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon

U2: Sunday Bloody Sunday

Keith Urban: Raining on Sunday

…these are just a few of my favorites, but you know what I mean, right?

Sundays are just a natural day of relaxation in our house.  Saturdays are typically a day to sleep in and then catch up on housework, chores, and social commitments, but when Sunday rolls around, we try to squeeze at least one day’s worth of quality time together.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but we do try; whether we lounge around the house in our pj’s, watch movies, and order takeout, or if we decide to get out and enjoy nice weather, Sundays are the day we try to spend together.

Yesterday, with brilliant sunshine and warm weather, we decided to take the motorcycle for our first “ride” of the season.  We didn’t venture far, but it was so…freeing…to be out.  Not speaking- not needing to.  Just enjoying the smells of nature and barbecue, cut grass and roadkill, and bugs in our faces.  (Ok, Ryan’s face.  He blocks them for me.)  And having my arms wrapped around his waist, knowing that this is one of those times where everything we have to say is being said without a word.  For me, that’s quite an achievement.

We started the day with a ride into town shortly before noon.  We dined alfresco at one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants, enjoying some birds who seemed very interested in our quesadillas  and nachos.

After lunch, we decided to continue our ride to a car show nearby.  One of the greatest things about having a motorcycle is knowing we don’t have to take the quickest route; it’s fun to ride sort of out-of-the-way and find new roads to get from here to there.

There weren’t too many notable cars at the car show, but it was still fun to go and check them out.  We headed home after wandering around for awhile, and took Clohe for a walk when the heat of the sun lost some of its intensity.

What are your favorite Sunday traditions, friends?  And what’s your favorite Sunday song?

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

Feels like May

This past weekend was, for the most part, beautiful.  Saturday turned out to be a perfect day for what I had planned, all of which was partying.  Outdoors.  Ahhhhhh.

We started Saturday morning by heading down to the Canine Carnival that was being held in a nearby town by the organization we’re affiliated with for Clohe’s therapy dog group.  One of the organizers has a vast amount of land that she’s designated as a “Puppy Playground,” so to speak, where pet owners can take their dogs for entertainment and exercise.  Since we have a pretty large yard, Clohe gets quite a bit of exercise here, but not much socialization with other dogs.  This was quite obvious when we got to the Carnival and other dogs tried to introduce themselves to our girl.  It wasn’t long before she found shade and cool under a picnic table and spend most of the even hiding underneath.  Though the weather forecast for the day said it would be in the 70’s, it definitely felt warmer than that.  So after a couple of hours, it was time to go home before Clohe melted.  Besides, Ryan’s exposed skin was beginning to take on a tomato-like hue.

In addition, our friends Dave and Andrea are expecting baby #2 in just a few weeks.  Since they had a shower before baby#1- my little “boyfriend” Nate, who is one of my best baby buddies ever- they decided to have a diaper party this time instead.  Rather than just showing up with a package of diapers, as is the tradition, I wanted to do something a little bit different.  A few months ago, our office held a baby shower for an expectant father in our office and his wife.  One of my co-workers made a “diaper cake,” which intrigued me, so I decided to copy her idea.  She gave me some basic instructions and a photo to use, and my end result looked like this:

(Thanks again, Amy, for the help!)

After the diaper party, I headed over to my former boss’ house for a party with his family.  We celebrated the End of the World and his 40th birthday party- what a hoot!  Strangely, even after drinking The Kool Aid, I still woke up yesterday morning.  The world is still turning.  Go figure.

Finally, yesterday Ryan and I took the opportunity to just be together after his difficult week.  I awoke to a cup of coffee in bed- to which he had added a splash of rum, hoping to bring me to life more quickly.  (It worked.  What a good guy I have!)  Following a brief rain shower, we took Clohe for a walk, then tried out a restaurant near us that we’d heard a lot about, but never tried.  What a great idea!  We spent our lunchtime sitting outside by the lake, sipping beers and enjoying a light meal- chicken salad for him, turkey wrap for me- enjoying the breeze and the sun.

Unable to stand it any longer, Ryan finally made it to his first dirt-track race last night, while I stayed home and indulged in a movie and some reality TV.  Between the movie and the finale of Celebrity Apprentice (which, by the way, reduced me to a sopping puddle of tears.  Of course.), Clohe and I went outside to enjoy a beautiful spring evening.  The sunset was perfect…

…and the air was filled with the heady fragrance of freshly cut grass (yay me!) and the blooming lilacs in our yard.

Lilacs totally make me sneeze, but I still love them!

I finally took a moment to appreciate the trees, whose leaves are fully exposed now.

And even the dandelions are a welcome sight.

They serve to reinforce the fact that spring has finally made its long-awaited appearance.  It’s here to stay.  And for now, at least, it really feels like summer might soon be on its way.

Summer: a time to spend weekend afternoons outside on the porch, with a good book and a glass of wine, enjoying the light breezes, the songs of the birds, and the aroma of the blooming flowers.

That’s where I’ll be spending more and more of my time, since my favorite TV shows are near their season finales: Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice; Celebrity Apprentice; and tomorrow, American Idol.  So last night, I also rescued my bicycle from the depths of our basement.  Which means, there’s a strong possibility I’ll be spending my summer recovering from injuries sustained from wrecking it.

If you don’t hear from me, you know where I am…

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d