Monday, December 10, 2012

Snapshot: Snow Daze

Morning After.

 When Nick told a friend of his about impending fatherhood, he offered some great advice. He said when the baby comes it is natural to turn all of your focus to the baby, to have that be your only priority. The important thing to remember, however, is to care for our relationship as a couple. He recommend that we try to have date night as often as possible and to make one another top priority. If we are doing well, baby is too.

I can already see how easy it would be to not ever leave baby and to turn all of my snuggling tendencies to the little one. A favorite blogger wrote about her experience with this here

Early Christmas present for Nick.

In an effort to combat this early, we have initiated weekly date nights. It has been the best part of pregnancy. Every Friday or Saturday night is reserved for the two of us to go to dinner and talk and hang out as a couple. We have been making some big efforts to trim spending but Nick asked that we not cut our dinner budget. For the time being, I agree. Besides, without wine, I'm a pretty cheap date.

Saturday evening I started getting ready earlier than usual. I do love getting dressed up and going out. But it's taking me longer to get ready as it is getting harder to pretend that my body is the same. I put on a red dress that I bought when I found out I was pregnant. It is not maternity but it stretches and has an empire waist. I am now showing but if you didn't know, you might just think I have a funny shape. The dress was only accentuating that. In another month it'll probably be cute but now, even Nick was concerned (He never says anything bad about my appearance but is more honest than most guys, and it is usually quite helpful). After a few outfit changes, we were out the door. 

We went to Amore Victoria. It is this great Italian place a few blocks from our first apartment. We used to go there all the time when I first moved here. We sat at a table that only had a booth against the wall and no chairs on the other side. It was very Parisian and the only table like that. It felt like we were there to watch everybody else. We had giant pasta dishes and lots of bread and oil. I even had a glass of sparkling n.a. cider in a champagne glass.

The Kitchen of Amore as we were leaving.
 After dinner we made a date night exception and went to a party hosted by my friend Sam. All of the guests save Nick and I, were theater students at the same college. We listened to Christmas music on vinyl and played with silly British party favors. At 12:30, after drinking too much hot cider (rum), Nick started tugging on my arm and we left to drive home. We got out to my car just as the expected snowstorm was starting.

We awoke in the morning to find everything covered in beautiful heavy snow. It continued all day. Nick, Toby, and I stayed inside watching snowfall and football. We invited friends over for the game but did not expect anybody due to the weather. Right at the start of the Vikings game, I heard footsteps in the mudroom. Elise spent an hour and a half walking the three miles to join us. It was really nice. I made brownies and we all cozied on the couch and watched the Vikings win. 

Toby taking advantage of a snow day.

I do not usually write my days but as I look outside and see everything buried and quiet, it is hard to not want to capture this time. I am learning how to embrace my changing days and these simple moments remind me that the important things are still there hidden in the everyday.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Next Part of Our Story: Not Not Surprised

  I do not know how to write without telling the truth. Maybe that is something funny to say for a fiction writer but Hemingway said that fiction is writing the trust sentence that you know. And blog writing is my adult version of the journals I kept in high school and college. It is the place where I share myself, where I write my own life. It is not always neat or pretty but it is always honest. And because I had a secret that I was not ready to share, I have been silent for the better part of two months.

Because of my silence, the words I have to share are tripping over themselves, racing one another to make it to the page. Writing is how I organize my thoughts and so my mind right now is like taking the contents of your desk and dumping it all over the floor. Excuse the mess while I pick everything up and put it back where it belongs. I guess I should just say it and then we can begin to backtrack and I will do my best to catch you up.

Nick and I are expecting a baby on May 19th.

It's true. It's still hard to believe but the pounding heartbeat that we got to hear yesterday tells me it is real. I have been very sick and so I have spent more time thinking about how to feel better than I have about becoming a mother. I am also a worrier (inherited from my father) so I have been afraid to share too early. I had this strong desire to take the news, celebrate privately, bundle it up, and keep it safe. With two ultrasounds, a strong heartbeat, and a scheduled appointment to find out the sex (10:40am on December 20th), I am getting more comfortable with embracing my new role.

Pregnancy is more of a journey than I ever could have imagined and I still have a long way to go. It blows my mind that every person that exists is because of a woman who has gone through this process. I try to think about that and it brings me comfort and a new level of respect for every mother I know.

Thanks Mom!

I am excited to start to feel movement and to find out boy or girl. I do not really have a preference and I go back and forth every day on what I think. The overall votes lean more heavily toward girl and if it is a girl, the name is finalized. If it is a boy, we are very up in the air. Yes, I will share the sex. No, I will not share the name.

Our Baby at 12w 3d. I love that little face.

Thank you for coming back to my blog after such an extended break. At least now, you might understand why. Moms always say that after the baby is born, you forget this time. My intention is to write on here more often, to share with you this journey, good and bad. This will not turn into a pregnancy or mom blog but as that is a part of my life now, it is a part of this blog.

I am reminded back to my first post. Nick and I were living together in the blue duplex in uptown. I hated my job and we were unmarried. Sometimes in the movement of everyday afternoons, you forget how much your life has changed, how far you have come. But when you take a moment, you realize you have arrived somewhere new, a place you did not know you could ever reach. My entire adult life, I have wondered if I would be able to have children, if Nick and I would create the family that we have talked so endlessly about. It has taken me months to let the gravity of the present settle in. Late this spring, Nick and I will be parents. This summer, I will hold a baby in my arms and it will belong to us.

Nick and I meeting our niece Kaia for the first time.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Simple Inspiration: Quote

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, 
a quickening that is translated through you into action, 
and because there is only one of you in all of time, 
this expression is unique. 
And if you block it, 
it will never exist through any other medium 
and it will be lost. The world will not have it. 
It is not your business to determine how good it is 
nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. 
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, 
to keep the channel open. 
You do not even have to believe in yourself 
or your work. 
You have to keep yourself open 
and aware to the urges that motivate you. 
Keep the channel open… 
No artist is pleased. 
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. 
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, 
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.”  
 -Martha Graham

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Old Man: Duke

I am not ready to come back to blogging yet. I am taking an extended and purposeful break. I will come back soon but in the meantime,  I do have one thing that I want to share now. If you know me personally or are a friend on Facebook, you already know.

On Thursday night, after being sick for only a few days. Duke passed away at home. He was 16 years old. We adopted him from Nick's cousins when he was 12, so we have only known him as an old man. That he was sick, that he was old, that he went on his own- none of these things make any of this easier.

If you knew him, you liked him. Visitor's always liked him best right away. There is something about Toby's immediate barking that turns people off, at least for a little bit. Duke just sat back, waited for you to come to him. He was friendly and sweet and gentle and would sleep at your feet after knowing you for just a few minutes. He rarely barked, he liked everyone, and his favorite activities were finding the best spots to sleep, basking in the sun, and eating good food. He knew how to enjoy life. Maybe it was something that came with age, but he got it.

At my bachelorette party, he sought refuge under this umbrella.

Christmas party, most comfortable spot was this single piece of tissue paper.

His last few weeks, he was spending more and more time outside. I would let him outside at 9 or 10 in the morning and at 2 or 3, I would go outside to check on him. The days were getting colder and it was weird that he had not asked to come in. Every time, I found him on the grass, paws stretched in front of him and head lifted to the sun. If I went back out an hour later, new spot, same position. 

He was fairly independent but there were exceptions. He always expected cuddles after a bath and in the last few years, scratched the couch until you pulled him up. His favorite way to cuddle on the couch was to have me squish him behind me, as though he was the big spoon. One time at my birthday party, people were leaning on him thinking he was a pillow. He did not mind but imagine their surprise!

After a bath.

Squeezing in for cuddles.
He was funny in really odd ways. On walks he had no regard for where he went the bathroom. On more than one occasion, he stopped and went in the middle of the street. The waiting cars had no choice but to watch as I quickly cleaned up before moving along..

One time at a friend's barbecue, we were keeping a close eye on Toby (he is known for causing trouble) while Duke roamed the yard. Toward the end of the evening, our hostess shouted in Duke's direction. I looked over to find him rolling in her mint plant. He smelled so good when I pulled him off but I do not know if she ever put those fur covered leaves in the intended mojitos. He smelled like tooth paste for days.

Duke and I did the Walk for Animals maybe 3 years ago. Even then, he was so slow. Like driving with hazard lights on, we kept having to tell people to just go around us. Still he loved it and we walked over 5 miles.
Duke proudly sporting his bandanna after the walk for animals.
 When we first adopted him, he used to hump buckets and planters. He was neutered but could not resist a good pot or empty bucket. It was odd and kinda gross, but really funny.

Watching the Puppy Bowl was one of the few things that really riled him up!
Because he was old and always mellow he got away with a lot. When he heard the dishwasher open, he always came to the kitchen hoping to find some food. It could only have been a few weeks ago that I turned my back, he got his front paws in the dishwasher and was licking dirty spoons. I think it was the same week, I left a kitchen trash bag outside the door to carry out. I went out an hour or so later to find the paper bag torn to shreds and Duke passed out beside a torn paper towel. I would always tell him he knew better in a stern voice as I tried to hold back laughter.

This is the first time that I have gone through this as an adult. It does not get easier. Maybe, it is even harder. I miss him more than I can stand. Everything reminds me of him and most of the time, I think he is napping in the other room.

He was not like most dogs in that he did not so freely give his complete love and trust. It felt like when we adopted him, that we had to earn it. He was set in his ways and not about to change for us. It took time but it was fun these past 4 and a half years watching that relationship grow. I know how much he loved us and I am so grateful that we had the chance to love him.

The only way they would cuddle was butt to butt. Brothers!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Writing Update: Finding Balance

Autumn is coming fast this year. The mornings are cool and crisp and I have started pulling on layers and sparking up wood in the fireplace. This time of year usually makes me want to nest, to stay inside and cuddle and clean. This fall is different.

The dropping of leaves, encourages us to hunker down, to slow our pace. This September lives are speeding up and taking off. Most of the friends that I see on a regular basis, are experiencing their own versions of change. I am not alone in figuring out my days.

Three of my favorite friends have new babies and another friend is about to move and then go on tour for a few months and Nick is beyond busy right now with a schedule as follows:
Monday- soccer
Tuesday- class
Wednesday- soccer
Thursday- class
Sprinkle in a full time job and homework.

I spend my days: drinking coffee, having one-sided conversations with Duke and Toby, and writing. I enjoy my time and could not ask for a better opportunity. I am also grateful for the cool mornings and football Sundays but I am feeling a little restless.

My extroversion is fighting against my natural desire to be home and create.

On hot August mornings, I started my day with iced coffee and yard work. The heat and the newness of my career was enough to allow me to settle into my desk without feeling like the sun was wasted. 

As the days get cooler, I realize that soon I will not want to step outside and I don't have to. I am beyond excited to not have to trudge outside when it is negative degrees but I know that to be happy- I need to find a balance. A balance between being alone and time with friends. I have not yet figured it out.

I knew it would be one of my biggest challenges. I  am an extremely social person and relationships are more important to me than anything. Even in writing, it is the intricacies of human connection that interest me most.

The other side to this is finding what I want to do, without influence. I have a tendency to pursue activities because a friend is interested. Not often enough, will I venture out if it means going by myself. I need to get better at that! I am trying. I went to yoga at 8:30 yesterday morning. Which by my standards, is very early. Tonight I am going to a book reading. If I say it here, I am much more likely to follow through.

Any suggestions you have for finding balance, are much appreciated. 

PS: While I have been writing this, Toby has been chasing a fly through my office.

PPS: I cannot shop right now due to budget restrictions and Anthropologie has more amazing stuff than ever before! If I could only have one, it'd be this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Few Notes From Abroad: Pictures to Come

Yes, we went to Paris and London and now we are home. Since I did not post on facebook or on the blog when we left, some people did not know the trip already happened. It kind of makes me feel like Nick and I snuck off to Europe and I am very much okay with that.

I have been wanting to post ever since we got back. I have been waiting to share pictures. The thing is, I do not really know how to get images off of Nick's camera or his phone. I need his help and we have been sick and he has started back at school. As a result, I have not been able to commandeer his brain. Soon, I promise.

I will say- it was wonderful! We had so much fun! Paris and London are such amazing cities. They are not very similar, except that they are massive and full of history.

London felt like being in the home of a distant relative. Maybe a great aunt who you do not know well, but when you hear her speak, she sounds familiar. Her walls, covered in the images of your family, solidify stories that you have heard your whole life. She can point to events, people, histories that are so famous, so long ago, they seem like a fairytale. 

 And Paris, Oh Paris! If London is a distant family member, Paris is an unrequited love. I never stood a chance. It happened at first sight and every day that passed, every baguette that was purchased, had me falling deeper. The city demands your attention. The Eiffel Tower did not disappoint but It does not stand alone in elegance. One afternoon, Nick suggested that we picnic in the garden by our hotel. I hesitantly agreed and we walked a few blocks to find the most beautiful park I have ever seen. That is Paris, brimming with surprise and hidden beauty.

Jardin Des Plantes

When I am able to share our photos, I will write again. I will tell you where we went and the silly things we did. Until then, Heather: this post is for you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One Year: An Amazing Way to Celebrate

Left to Right: Carlos, Ketlynne, Abbie, Matt, Adam, Katie, Kris, Kat

When I called the Omni Parker House last week to book a room, they asked my reason for the one-night stay. It was probably more than they actually wanted when I responded- A friend is getting married in Providence and it happens to be the same weekend as our one year wedding anniversary, which took place at the Omni, so the day after their their wedding, we'll be there to celebrate ours.

There was a long pause before the lady responded, "So it's your anniversary?"

I told her that it was and she asked if I minded if she took note. I was hoping she would.

All of the above plus Steve, Nick and I.

 So late Friday night, Nick and I flew into Boston. The flight was fun as we got free beer and watched this dumb, funny show. We landed at 11:30pm, rented a car, and drove to my parents house. My Mom got out of bed to spend a few minutes chatting with us and then we all went to sleep.

Nick and I were out of the house by 9am and driving to Providence. We walked into our first hotel at 10:15am to find our buddy Adam walking his baby girl around the lobby.  The first baby in our ever growing OZ04 family.

The wedding was for my friends, Carlos and Katie. Carlos and I went to college together but did not meet until we were driving around on a bus in Australia. That's right, the same bus where I met him and her. It was an eventful time. 

Carlos quickly became one of my best friends. He is kind and sweet and funny. He can dance really well and even though he's a very successful adult, he is young at heart. He is a romantic, he loves superheros and Disney movies, and he would do anything for his family and friends.

Nick, Carlos, and Katie in Boston a few years ago.

In August of 2005 when I packed up my life and drove to Minnesota, Carlos came with me. I owe a lot to him for that. It was the craziest thing I have ever done, more so than skydive or bungee jump. (Though, he was there for those adventures too.)


So the woman taking my reservation at the hotel was spared from details of truly how significant this weekend actually was. 

The wedding was so much fun! we laughed and danced and reminisced and took a million pictures and laughed even more.

Congratulations Carlos and Katie!!

 The next day after tears by me and lots of hugs, Nick and I were on our own to celebrate our anniversary. We arrived at the Omni to discover that we had been upgraded to a suite like the one we had for our wedding. Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us. (A+) It helped me dry my tears and we set off for dinner in the North End.

The next day was our actual anniversary and we toured downtown Boston on my signature walk before meeting up with my family. We went to dinner at the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner. We sat outside and I could not help but think about sitting in this very spot the year before. It was perfect.

At 6:15 the next morning, we were on a plane back to Minneapolis. It was a whirlwind. It seems almost like a dream now. Did I really just see all those people? Did we really just have our first wedding anniversary? It doesn't seem possible. I feel so lucky. And the cherry on this tale is that our next adventure is right around the corner.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Like a Real Adult: Dinner with Friends

I spent most of yesterday like a 1950's housewife. I grocery shopped, cooked, and cleaned all day. I watched the clock, wanting to have dinner ready by 6pm. The hours passed quickly and there was no time for a break. A muscle that I did not know I had, hurts today from all of the vegetable peeling.

I am sure for many people, this is normal. For me, it is not. I live primarily off of toast. Nick cooks much more often than I do. Now that I am the one home during the day, I am making an effort to be more active in the kitchen.

Another change with being home is that I do not see my friends unless I actually make plans. So last night I invited three of my favorite girls over for dinner.  It seemed a great way to knock two birds with one frying pan.

It also gave me a chance to use some of the fancier serving items that we got for our wedding. You know something does not get used enough when there are cobwebs. So after hand-washing all of the fancy dishes, as to not serve my friends dusty food, I set the table and began cooking.

The menu was compiled via Pinterest. The day before the dinner, I must have looked at my Bite To Eat page for an hour trying to decide what I wanted to attempt. I compiled a list and then modified it yesterday, opting to make a vegetarian meal after watching Forks Over Knives. We ended up with:
Paired with a variety of wines and cheesecake for dessert.

 It was delicious and so fun! Nick ended up sneaking in and joining us for dinner. The work he had to get done was put on hold as he tried to soak up his wife as the chef. It is a lot of work and I do not see myself doing this every week but it was nice and I love having leftovers. My friend Theresa and I joked that next time we hang out, we are keeping our houses messy and ordering pizza. Maybe I'll put the pizza on a fancy plate, just to keep it classy. 

I keep thinking about how much your interests change as you get older. If anybody had ever told me that I would care about dish sets or napkin holders, I would not have believed them. I remember as a kid thinking that home depot was the most boring store in the world. Now, I could wonder around there for hours. As I wrote that, the six-year-old boy next door ran by my window dressed in a knight costume with a cape flowing behind him. Yes!!

I will end this with a link to the song that is stuck in my head. Have a good weekend!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Transition: Cape Cod

In the mid 1970's my grandparents bought a small plot of land across the street from a quiet beach in Cape Cod. It has always been a place for my family to gather A place to swim in the ocean, eat seafood, and sit on the deck and listen to the waves.

When I was twenty, I lived at the house for the summer with my grandmother. During the day, I laid on the beach and at night, I was a waitress at a local restaurant. My Nana would join me on the beach with her fishing hat and water shoes. We would sit and chat and watch the tides move in and out. After a few hours, She would excuse herself to go back up to the house to make tapioca pudding or angel food cake. We would go out to dinner at 4:30 and she would comment on the enormous portions of food. We would sit up at night and watch the Tonight Show and she would doze sitting up in a chair. In the morning, she would read the entire newspaper. Her vision was fading so she used a magnifying glass to be able to see the words clearly. Her memory would slip occasionally but she would laugh about it once she realized and we would move on. It is hard to believe that was nine years ago.

My father is retired now and because he knows how much it means to her, he is spending the summer at the beach house with my Nana. It is no longer the lazy days of summer that I remember. Caring for my Nana has become a full time job as she is in the advanced stages of dementia. When it is my Mom and Dad together, they are an amazing care team. My Mother is a nurse and able to carry out tasks that the rest of us cannot. My Mom is wonderful with her and it seems that deep in her mind, Nana recognizes her as a nurse and listens to her instructions. My Dad spent his career in a number of leadership roles so he knows how to organize and oversee: medicine schedules, doctors appointments, nurses visits, and ensures that Nana is well cared for by the people that love her.


Work schedules being what they are, my Mom had to leave her post as Nana's nurse for eight days so she could go to her paying job. To keep my Dad company, I offered to fill her space for that time. The last day at my job was on a Friday, on the Tuesday, I flew to Cape Cod.

It was nice spending that time with my family. For most of the trip it was just Nana, Dad, and me. Every time I walked into the room, I introduced myself to Nana and was received with varying degrees of recognition. I would sit with her for hours and play music that she knew. It was so rewarding to see her laugh and smile in response to The Sound of Music.

My first day there, Nana had a moment of clarity. I told her who I was and that we are on the deck at her Cape house. In response she said, "Grandpa and I got this house so that the family could come and go and come and go."

On the weekend, my sisters, brother-in-law, niece, cousin, aunt, and sister's dog came to stay. It was fun to all be together. As hard as it is to see Nana, a woman so full of grace, go through this awful disease, she has done something right in her life to be so surrounded by love. She naps on the couch with the ocean crashing outside and her family comes and goes and comes and goes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Notice: It's Really Happening

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Last Tuesday, I took a giant leap. Nick and I decided the night before that we are ready.

When I woke up in the morning, I felt sick. I was shaky and pale and almost lost my breakfast. I came into work, called my supervisor into a meeting, and gave my two weeks notice. He asked me if I had really thought it over, if I was sure that this is what I wanted. My nerves turned to excitement and I had to try to not laugh.

From the moment I walked out of the meeting room, I felt different. I felt confident. I knew I made the right decision.

So many times I have written on here about feeling like I was ready for change, that something exciting was right around the corner. After patiently waiting and planning for the right moment, it has finally arrived.

I have spent so much time thinking about what I really want. Some of the answers are more obvious than others. Some answers never change.

Nick is an engineer and so he and I have made plans to make this work. We made charts and graphs and lists and once there was nothing left to decide, we were ready.

I am going to pursue a dream.

As of July 21st, my job title is writer.

Duke and Toby will be my coworkers. My office is my new work space. I will toil away at a computer screen. I will put words on a page and try to make something out of it.

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To answer the FAQs:

1. Yes, I have something lined up but not as much as you might think.
  • I have an unpaid internship writing for a furniture company.
    • It is marketing writing for a company that cares a lot about sustainability and being eco-friendly.
  • I am working on a novel.
    • I am terrible at giving a synopsis of my novel. Suffice it to say, it is fiction and I still have a lot left to write.
  • I am applying for other writing jobs and freelance opportunities.
    • Yes, I would love if you knew of any opportunities and shared them with me.
great words

2. I write primarily fiction but I am also interested in copy editing, marketing writing, and short non-fiction. At this stage in the writing game, I am not picky and will be happy to write about horses or umbrellas. I love writing about pop-culture, people, and travel.

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3. I am able to do this because my husband is amazing. He has been pushing me harder than I have been pushing myself. He believes in my talent and encourages my passion. He is also really smart and works as an engineer in the neuromodulation department so he can support us for a bit. (** This does mean though that we will be significantly tightening our belts in the upcoming months.)

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4. Yes, I am very aware of the challenges that I (we) face. I hear it in the lack of words of some of the older and more traditional people in my life. Ultimately, this is something that if I did not try, I would always wonder what if and so whatever the outcome may be, I believe in my decision and I cannot wait to see what this time brings...

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