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I miss my mom.

It’s weird when you’ve lost someone so significant in your life, you still see them everywhere. I’ll see someone with your body shape and do a double take. I’ll be behind a stranger in a line at the store and want to reach out and touch her hair because it looks like it probably feels exactly the way yours did. I’ll stare a little too long at someone’s fingers while they are signing a receipt at work because they have the same well-worked but soft look yours used to have, with just a touch of dirt from the garden around the nails. Someone will wear a shirt I could picture you wearing. I see people carrying oxygen tanks on their back or rolling on the ground behind them and it makes me cringe with anger and sadness. There are smells that remind me of you. Smells that could literally bring me to my knees in tears. Jokes that I know only you and I would laugh about together. It seems like there is a little bit of you everywhere in the world and I can’t tell if it is making it better or worse.

I miss my mom. That’s all there is to it. I want her here by my side every single day. I want her playing with Paxton on my living room floor. I want her to be just a phone call away when I can’t remember how hot to preheat the oven for baked potatoes or when I’m in the medicine aisle at target and don’t know which cold medicine to buy. I want to sit on her porch and watch Paxton play in her plants while I vent about why Nate or my dad is pissing me off, knowing she is always going to be on my side but will also offer unbiased advice. And I would listen to her because she is my mom and I trust her completely.

I feel so much sadness sometimes that it’s crippling. I feel broken. It’s not getting any easier without you here, I’m just learning how to cry less. I’m tired of hearing “oh honey your mother would be so proud of you”, I don’t want anyone’s sympathy. I just want my mom back.

I needed to write this and have a good cry. I forgot how much better it feels to get it out.

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Paxton’s first Christmas

Paxton’s first Christmas… Something I had imagined when I was pregnant, even when he was just a month or two old, and it came so quickly! And it was so much fun 🙂

Keeping up with this amazing not-so-little baby has been challenging and incredibly fun. He started crawling at almost exactly 7 months, after weeks if rocking back and forth on his hands and knees. Now, from crawling he can grab on to really anything and stand up. I fear I may have an early walker on my hands, which is scary since only a small portion of our house is baby proofed. He has become rather graceful at falling on his butt, most of the time he doesn’t even fall all the way down, just into a sitting position. He is very independent, which is convenient for the both of us. He can crawl around and pick out the toys he wants to play with and where he wants to be. He has also started holding his own bottle some, so really what does he even need me for!! (Jk!)

He is loving eating, trying new flavors, textures, using his hands. He will actually throw a fit sometimes when we are eating and he isn’t. He is trying sippy cups but is still unsure about that!

Christmas season rolled around and I couldn’t help but splurge on Paxton. I would see one thing after another that I thought he would enjoy, and how many times does a baby get a first Christmas! Paxton was a perfect age for his first Christmas, he loved the bows, the wrapping paper, the tearing, the mess, the toys? Meh. He likes them now that all the paper and tape is in the garbage, but at the time he was mildly interested. He would look at it, then put it in his mouth, then go back to the wrapping paper. He was pretty cute, sitting up, enjoying the excitement.

I will try to blog more, but honestly I have been having too much fun keeping up with Packy, and with that on top of trying to make some personal decisions and changes in my life, I’ve been busy! But anyways, here’s some pictures of Paxton’s first Christmas!

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Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I can’t believe it’s been a year. Since you have been gone, the air seems heavier. The world seems immensely more intimidating. I still have so many unanswered questions. Random questions. The type of questions that would pop into my head, I’d call you, and have an answer. Especially now that I’m a mom, I have a new question everyday.

Paxton. That sweet little baby. I know that you’ve seen him, been watching over him everyday of his life, and I thank you for that. I promise to tell him all about you, the grandma that loved him so much even though he’ll never get to meet her. He will know you as his angel grandma, who is always with him. I still can’t believe he has your toes, one of the only features on your body that was so unique. I’ll tell him that his little piggies are just like mommy’s little piggies, and grandma’s little piggies, and that’s how family works, we get parts of each other. I never realized just how much you loved us, so unconditionally, until I had Paxton, whom I’d move mountains for in a heartbeat. I also never understood how you could still care for dad, after all he’d done, until I had Paxton. The love I have for Nate is unreal now, and I see how something in your heart changes once you have a child with someone.

Everyday. Everyday I think about you. I remember you. I miss you. It’s impossible not to, you’re everywhere. You’re in the two dogs that stink, and pee in our kitchen, and bark at the table, and poop in the stairwell. They miss the love they got from you, your undivided attention, your patience. I’m doing my best, but I’m no you. You’re in Jordan, my sister, the only one I can share this pain with. You’re in the furniture that’s around the house, the pictures on the walls. You’re in the star tattoo I have on my wrist, the one that you got too, for my 18th birthday. You’re in the blanket on the couch, the one that Jordan and I always joked about taking when you died, the one that’s in the pictures of us all napping together when we were kids.

No one tells you how to cope with this type of loss. Until you have experience this pain, it is unfathomable. I can cry in an instant, by a single thought or memory. There is a hole in my heart that will never be full again. You were not just my mom, you were my best friend, my confidant, my role model. I hope that I will be half of the mom you were to me. You taught me so much about life, and I learned from your mistakes. I will never forget the way you treated me, with honesty and respect, and you always let me be me and learn from my mistakes. You forgave in an instant, and because you were always so understanding, I was never afraid to come to you with anything. That is something I hope to have with my children.

You were the best mom anyone could ever ask for. It helps to know that you are still here, and that you aren’t suffering anymore. You’re on the other side, breathing easily, watching us. I know we are making you proud everyday. I know you are loving us from where you are. Today is going to suck, it is going to suck on this day every year for the rest of my life, that’s just the truth. But maybe, it will get easier. Jordan and I are going to get tattoo’s in remembrance of you, we figured you would like that, plus it’s an excuse for us to get more tattoos 🙂

I want you to know that in spite of all the pain, I’m happy.

We’ll bring you some tulips, tulips you’ll see from heaven.

I miss you, I love you,

Bug

PS. Remember this day?? The day you heard your grandson’s heartbeat for the first time?

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A Belated Half-Birthday Post

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Well, this post is a little overdue, but better late than never, right!?

PAXTON IS SIX MONTHS OLD! AHHH!
Okay, well maybe more like six and a half now, but oh well 🙂

There is one cliché that I have definitely found to be true thus far: It goes by SO fast. Holy cow does it go by so fast. I am in awe that he is six months old already. Halfway to a freakin’ year. Before I know it I am going to planning a first birthday party. And then a second. And then a third. And then a fourth, fifth, sixth and so on. And then he will be graduating. Then getting married. Okay I have to stop or I am going to cry.

So I have continued to make Paxton’s baby food, which has been great. I have experimented with frozen foods, veggies, mixing fruits and veggies. It has all been fun, and he absolutely LOVES eating. I can’t say that we are exclusively homemade food, I have picked up a pre-made food here and there, mainly to see if he enjoys the food before I buy a bunch and make it at home. I am still impressed with how much money we are saving by making it at home. One of the food pouches runs about $1.50 and provides one meal, and I bought a bag of frozen spinach and a bag of apples for $4.00 and it made about 8 jars of food!

Paxton is getting smarter and smarter everyday. He is sitting up by himself now, and is on the verge of crawling. It is hilarious watching him on the ground flailing his arms and legs around like he is a beached whale. He knows where he wants to be, and he understands that his arms and legs will probably be the way to get there, but lifting that stinking belly off the ground and maneuvering his arms and legs appropriately is just a touch beyond his knowhow. He is starting to get his upper half (including belly) off the ground though, so I’m sure he will be there in no time! He gets to sit in the seat in grocery carts now, which he seems to think is just about the greatest thing ever. He laughs more freely now, though the beard tickles he gets from Daddy are still the most irresistible thing ever.

We started sleep training a while ago, and I must say it went terrifically. When we started, we had been putting him in his swing after his bottle to fall asleep, then moving him to his crib. So we started by putting him in his crib right after his bottle and let him ‘cry it out’. The first night, I let him cry for 10 minutes, then went in and comforted him by giving him his binky and rubbing his back. He cried for maybe 5 more minutes then fell asleep. The next night was about the same. The third night it only took 10 minutes to fall asleep. By the end of about a week he was falling asleep on his own, with little to no fussing. He would wake up a time or two during the night, and it just took another binky and back rub to get him back to sleep. Now, he goes to sleep by himself, and we almost never even use the swing for naps since he naps in his crib now too! It is pretty awesome!

Paxton’s first holiday came, Halloween! It was pretty low-key, but we put him in the most adorable dinosaur footie pajamas that his uncle Brandon brought him from Finland. We used the opportunity to take adorable pictures, but that was about it. We are very excited for the upcoming holiday season, who isn’t?!

I am thoroughly enjoying six months old. I have enjoyed every step of our baby’s life, but it still just gets better. I can’t wait for Packy pictures around a christmas tree 🙂

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My experience making baby food

I made the decision to at the very least attempt to make my own baby food early on, either when I was still pregnant or not long after Paxton was born. I thought it seemed like a neat idea for a few reasons. It seemed like it would probably be more cost effective, I liked the idea of knowing exactly what Paxton was eating, and it seemed like it’d be a nice and productive hobby! So about a month ago I decided to give it a go by making and freezing some sweet potatoes. What a mess that was! I had no idea what I was doing and decided to try a few methods to blend the boiled food. Plain old food processor is the clear winner over the magic bullet and a weird 18th century sifter/grinder thing that my dad had.

So now that Paxton is five months old and I feel more comfortable feeding him solids on a regular basis, I decided to give food making another try, this time I was a bit more prepared. First I bought a baby and toddler cook book at Powells, more as a reference for ideas. Then I went to my favorite produce market, Chucks, and spent $11.45 on 5 apples, 4 plums, 3 peaches, 2 pears, 1 mango, 1 bag of baby carrots, and 1/2 pound of green beans. I was pretty happy with the amount I got for so little money! Then when I got home, my lovely sister entertained Paxton while I got started.

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I decided to use mason jars for storing my baby food. I figured they are easily cleaned, durable, freezable, and I was able to find them in a great size; a 12 pack of 4 oz jars. I decided to go the simple route, making individual purées of each fruit or veggie, no crazy mixes just yet. I started with apples, making a bland applesauce, nothing added, just apples and water in a pot until they were mushy, then puréed. Sidenote, I saved the boiled water from the apples and added into the purées to get the texture I wanted.

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Apples, peeled. I decided to only use 4 of the 5 I bought.

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Puréed apples

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Applesauce cooling before I put it in cans.

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These are my peaches, cut in half and placed face down in the pan (with pits still in) with about an inch of water at the bottom. Cover and let it steam for a while. I found the peaches to be absolutely the most annoying because they were a b*tch to peel after they had cooked for a while. I thought it would be easy because typically skins fall off after cooking. Not so much. Next time I am going to peel first and cut in smaller pieces before putting them in the pan. The way I did it took forever!!

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Peaches cooking. (this is where I started getting lazy and took less pictures)

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These are my pears. I peeled them (hang on tight, they are slimy!) sliced them up, and put them in my steam basket. Steamed them until they were nice and mushy, which didn’t take long, and puréed them. I don’t think I had to add any extra water to the mix.

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Boiled carrots. I used the entire bag of baby carrots. Boil til mushy, blend. Anyone else noticing a pattern here??

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This is what happens when you steam your pears and mangoes in the same pan adding just a tad more water each time then try to steam your green beans. Whoops! My water quickly dissolved and the sugar burned. Luckily for me, the bean cooked without burning and the pan cleaned up nicely! Lesson learned, switch out your water! The green beans were a little trickier to purée, but with the rest of the apple water added, it blended fine.

So, once everything was boiled or steamed, puréed, and cooled, I canned it! Here’s what I got; 4 jars of apples, 4 jars of peaches, 4 jars of carrots, 2 1/2 jars of mangoes, and 2 jars of green beans. If you’re wondering what happened with my plums, I ended up not using them because they weren’t quite ripe enough. That’s roughly $.70 a jar. Not too shabby!! It was fun, and it’s nice knowing what’s in his food! It’s not that I don’t trust baby food that’s on the shelves of grocery stores or that I want to be ‘more organic’ (HA!)… I’m thinking of it as more of a fun hobby that benefits my son!

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“Look everyone, it’s my puppy brother!”

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Well, if you know me, you were probably expecting a post of this nature eventually.

Here’s a little fact about me: I love animals. Always have, always will. For as long as I can remember I have loved cats, dogs, and any other furry creature I came in contact with, saw from afar, or learned about. Having a pet of some sort has just been a part of my growing up.

One day, I finally became old enough to have my own pet, and of course, I wanted a large dog. For my 15th birthday I got a gift certificate from my dad for the Oregon humane society. As soon as I possibly could, I dragged my mom to the humane society to pick one out. The first dog I thought I loved was a giant blood hound, until we got it into a visiting room and the dog ignored us completely, instead he sniffed his was around the room and when he was done he gave a big shake of the head and drool flew everywhere.. Mom immediately said “no.” As we walked out of the visit room my mom saw this sweet yellow dog that was pressing herself against the kennel door, begging for pets. Her name was Nyah. She was skin and bones, dandruff falling into our hands as we loved on her. She was about a year old and 60 pounds. We met with her and immediately loved her. Even crazier, when we brought Rags, moms little yorkie, he liked her too! So I got my 5 dollar dog. She was the best thing that ever could have happened to me at that time in my life.

Fast forward 6 years, Nate and I have our own place. We also had 2 cats, Charlie Monster and Flomar, whose names we came up with the first time we met. Charlie, a maine coon we adopted from the humane society, and Flomar, a Siamese we got off Craigslist. We were happy with our little family.

Then I acquired Sarge. I rescued him as an oily, flea ridden mess of a kitten who approached me from under a car in a parking lot. Of course, thanks to my sometimes inconvenient passion, I scooped him up, took him home and bathed him, then gave to him to my dad after a month or two of fostering. However, soon circumstances changed and my dad had to move to a place where he wasn’t able to keep him, so Sarge moved back in with us. He quickly became my “Mitten”.

Last November my mom passed away and I claimed her two dogs, Rags and Andy, two 12 year old yorkies.

So, we have a 6 animal household. AND A BABY.

There are lots of people out there who think that raising a child with animals in the house is risky business. There are people out there (and I know this based on the phone calls that I have received at the vet clinic I work at) that think it is okay, even normal, to euthanize a pet because there is no longer space for him in the home, or because he is all of a sudden extremely annoying to them. It’s an unfortunate fact that some people think that the animals they have welcomed into their home aren’t family members, but props in their family portrait.

When I got pregnant, I wasn’t worried about the dogs not liking the baby, I was excited to be able to share the relationship I had with Nyah with my baby! I was excited for my baby to grow up with access to cats and dogs, and learn how to love a pet at a young age. A Facebook friend of mine who is pregnant recently posted a status expressing her frustration about certain people in her life continuously mentioning their thoughts about her giving up her dog when the baby comes. This broke my heart, because apparently her dog is just a sweet, innocent black lab. Some people just assume that all dogs are going to be a danger to a baby. Don’t get me wrong, even the sweetest dog could be accidentally dangerous if left with a baby without an adult present, but come on people.

Anyways, once Paxton arrived, I was so excited to introduce him to the pets. However, we got home, and other than a few sniffs, the pets were pretty much unimpressed. As Paxton has gotten older, they are somewhat more interactive, Nyah will occasionally give him a lick. Mitten, however, is pretty taken with him. He likes to snuggle up with Paxton when he’s feeling friendly. Of course I was extremely cautious about Paxton sleeping, making sure cats didn’t have access to him, in case they were feeling a little too cuddly, but as he has gotten older we have been more lax about that because he is so good at waking up if he is uncomfortable, though we still kick cats out when they get close to his upper body when he’s asleep.

I think that there are lots of benefits to raising a pet with a baby. It helps reduce the risk of allergies. It socializes the pets so they will be comfortable around babies, making them (hopefully) gentler animals overall. You are giving the baby an opportunity to learn how to love pets, as well as the opportunity to give them responsibilities at a young age. You are potentially raising future pet owners, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from working at a vet clinic, it’s that the world could use more loving pet owners. I couldn’t be happier that I’m raising my baby in small zoo, and I have a feeling that one day, Paxton will thank us for it.

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Unrelated to motherhood: Nate’s music room!

So, as many of you know, Nate is a very talented musician. He plays all sorts of instruments as well as writes, sings and records his own, original music. To do this, as I’m sure you can imagine, he needs a lot of stuff. When I met him, the sound booth that he and his father built was taking up an entire (huge) walk in closet. On top of that he has a piano, multiple guitars, an electric drum set, desk and computer, speakers and amps, books about music, boxes of cords for all of the above, and then some. So needless to say he needs an entire room for all this. At our apartment, we had a second bedroom for him, but when my mom died and Jordan moved back down here, Nate selflessly gave up his room, his personal haven if you will, to give my sister her own space and privacy. That was last November. When we started house shopping with my dad, a room for Nate was definitely a priority. When we finally found the perfect house, there was just one thing missing: a finished room on our floor for Nate. However, the perfect house came with a pretty large garage that could easily be converted into half garage half music room by putting a wall up through the middle. We were even more fortunate to have a dad who was not only willing to let us take up the garage, but also willing to help build it. Since Jordan, Dad and I are mildly obsessed with HGTV, Jordan and Dad decided it would be awesome if we did it ‘HGTV Style’ and figured out what Nate wanted (which was easy because he wasn’t picky) and we would come up with everything else ourselves and he wouldn’t get to see it in progress, just the finished product. We took pictures along the way, and here is how it all turned out!

Before: getting ready to clean out the garage

Before: getting ready to clean out the garage

During: Everything pulled out of the garage

During: Everything pulled out of the garage

My awesome Aunt Kelley came out all the way from Colorado to help me clean out the garage. Okay also to meet Paxton, but we mainly cleaned out the garage.

During: looking better!

During: looking better!

After: Everything is organized!

After: Everything is organized!

I couldn’t have done this without Kelley. We are very like minded. “Oh, we haven’t seen let alone used this in two years. Trash!” Whereas if Dad and Jordan were the ones helping me, there would have been a lot of “But what if one day I need this…..” A handful of trips to good will and one trip to the dump later, we have a clean garage!

From the inside of the garage

From the inside of the garage

 

Dad "helping" his friend Kevin frame the wall

Dad “helping” his friend Kevin frame the wall

We had help from quite a few people, one of them being Kevin, Dad’s BFF.

Wall goes up!

Wall goes up!

And there is a wall!

And there is a wall!

Nate's Dad Dirk helping while he was in town

Nate’s Dad Dirk helping while he was in town

The very talented Dirk installed electric outlets in the new wall, a luxury we weren’t expecting to get!

Wall from inside

Wall from inside

Texturing the walls

Texturing the walls

 

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Taping for stripes (PAIN IN THE BUTT)

Taping for stripes (PAIN IN THE BUTT)

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First wall is blue, painting stripes

First wall is blue, painting stripes

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The new light fixture for the room

The new light fixture for the room

 

Black and white stripes!

Black and white stripes!

 

That window is level to the ground and the white wall below it is concrete.

That window is level to the ground and the white wall below it is concrete.

I somehow managed to hand paint that treble clef, not to shabby if I say so myself!

Door to our apartment

Door to our apartment

Stripes completely done, after multiple layers of paint and touch-ups

Stripes completely done, after multiple layers of paint and touch-ups

Starting to install carpet pad

Starting to install carpet pad

 

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Carpet is in, still needs to be cut

Carpet is in, still needs to be cut

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Carpet cut

Carpet cut

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I must say one of my proudest parts of this room is the carpet, which I installed BY MYSELF!

Sound booth being put in

Sound booth being put in

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Sound booth complete!

Sound booth complete!

Mitten exploring the sound booth roof again.  He doesn't fit as well as he used too

Mitten exploring the sound booth roof again. He doesn’t fit as well as he used too

Light it in!

Light it in!

Jordan being a big help

Jordan being a big help

Dad finishing the window frame which we decided to do in plywood to tie the room together since it matches the booth.

Dad finishing the window frame which we decided to do in plywood to tie the room together since it matches the booth.

Finished product!

Finished product!

 

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Time for the big reveal!!!!

Enjoying room with Charlie

Enjoying room with Charlie

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