Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cutest Snow Removers Around

As you all know, I'm not one for manual labor.  Lucky for me, I live with the two cutest snow removers around.

Dixie doesn't help with snow removal.  I just think she looks really cute sitting in the snow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Candy Distribution Rules

Halloween night has come and gone and so have the trick or treaters and most of the candy.  This time last year I was recovering from saying goodbye to an old friend and accepting that I now owned a minivan.  We got home too late and didn't have any trick or treaters.  But this year I picked up some candy on the way home from work and we were ready for the kids.

I wanted to make sure I had enough candy to last and if I'm being honest, I wanted to make sure I had candy leftover for us too.  So I came up with some rules for how I was going to pass out candy.
1 piece - Under the age of 3

2 pieces - You look like you could have access to eggs or could smash my pumpkins or mailbox 
1 piece - If I can see your parent's tail lights at the end of my driveway regardless of how old you look.  And if I was sneaky enough I would take candy from you as a reverse parent candy tax, but I'm not sneaky enough so my only recourse is to be stingy with my candy.  (I think I'm going to buy raisins for next year and if I see tail lights, your kids are getting raisins!)
2 pieces - If I know you or you live on my street 
2 pieces - When you're about 3 and I let you pick a piece and you take two anyway, but you are so cute in your police uniform that I don't say no. 
-1 piece - If you complain about the candy I give you.  Not really, I will still give you a piece but I'm not happy about it. 
1 piece - For taking your little sister who is dressed up as a princess trick or treating and you aren't doing it for the candy.

And I'm happy to report there was the perfect amount of candy left over, not too much but enough to try one of everything.

Dixie even dressed up for Halloween.  Yes, she was as irritated with the costume as she looks in the picture.  

Last night we had a spooky dinner with Daulton since he is with his mom tonight.  We had mummy dogs, fingers dipped in blood, brains, and dirt pudding.  Also known as hot dogs wrapped in breadsticks, french fries and ketchup, mac and cheese, and dirt pudding.  I lit some candles, slapped a sign on the ketchup bottle that said blood, turned off the lights, and it was spooky dinner time!

Spooky dinner was a huge success!  The boys loved it and I think it will be a new Halloween tradition. It was funny to hear them to "pass the blood" when they wanted more ketchup.  Daulton wanted to know if we were going to have a spooky breakfast this morning.  I told him it was a great idea but I do not get up early enough to make a spooky breakfast.  Me trying to cook in the morning would be really scary.

So Happy Halloween from our family to yours!!  (I look like a zombie nerd in this picture.)

Do you have rules for distributing candy to the trick or treaters?  When did it become acceptable to just stand at someone's door with a pillow case and not say "trick or treat"?  Do you have any Halloween traditions you follow?


Monday, October 15, 2012

Dixie Enjoys 3rd Grade

I haven't written much about Daulton and 3rd grade yet, but he is doing really well.  He has a great teacher, is getting good grades, and he is now reading for fun...which makes me very happy!  I want him to love to read as being a good reader really helps with other subjects in school.

To prepare for 3rd grade, I bought a sandwich press from Pampered Chef.  Daulton typically takes his lunch to school and apparently having your sandwich with the crusts cut off and the sides sealed is a big trend in the elementary school cafeteria.  And, I'm a sucker.  He said he wanted one, a friend was having a Pampered Chef party, and one online purchase later I was the proud owner of a Pampered Chef Cut-N-Seal.

Dixie might love the Cut-N-Seal more than Daulton does.  She anxiously waits by the kitchen counter while I make his sandwich and I can't count how many times I've tripped over her.

So, Dixie is enjoying 3rd grade as well.  Or at least the lunch aspect of 3rd grade.

Sometimes I can even get the crust ring around her snout before she eats it, but that's impossible to do and take a picture.  Dixie loves peanut butter and jelly like a fat kid loves cake.

Pampered Chef doesn't know me and didn't compensate me for this post.  These opinions are my own.  But if Pampered Chef wants to send me something to try out, Dixie and I would be happy to oblige.


Monday, October 8, 2012

If You Can't Be Good, Be Good At It

I've probably written this post in my head about 20 times now but I haven't actually put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard.  My grandpa, Doyle Rardin, was laid to rest a week ago today.  He was 80 years old and he loved his wife, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.  During his funeral service, it was mentioned how much he loved his grandkids and great-grandkids and as I went through pictures with my cousins later, in almost every picture with him and a grandchild he was never looking at the camera.  He always looked at whoever he was holding with a smile on his face.

Grandpa & me, age 2
Its hard to lose a fixture of your childhood.  I was obsessed with horses as a kid and dreamt of the day I would have my own.  During this horse obsession, my grandpa would have ponies, donkeys, and mules at the farm.  The first pony, Pumpkin, was as close as I was going to get to a real horse and if I used my imagination, she was the real deal.  Grandpa would always saddle up Pumpkin whenever I asked and despite my kicks, would never go faster than a walk.  (The only time I've seen Pumpkin run is when my sister was riding her and she took off for the fields.  I can still see my sister bouncing in the saddle and hear my uncles running after them, yelling but never spilling a drop of beer they were holding.)  In college, I will never forget when he punched a donkey in the face after he told it to stop nibbling on his collar.  It was as crazy as it sounds.  I know my Grandpa had a tough life and was a tough SOB, but he was always gentle and kind with me.

As sad as I've been to lose my Grandpa, I've really enjoyed reconnecting with my cousins and hearing their stories and memories.  We went back to the farm after the service and lunch to look around their house, farm, and shop.  I found the outfits my Grandma made for the ceramic goose that sits on the front step and touched the kitchen table that we ate Grandma's homemade noodles.  I haven't spent much time in the barn because there was always animals and poop out there (and let's be honest, I'm a city girl), but I remember going out there to visit Pumpkin as a kid and I swear I could hear her behind the barn door that day.  In his shop we saw his new tractor and the stuff he's accumulated over the years.  He loved to go to auctions and one of the first few times I brought Matt over to visit, he took Matt out to his shop to have him look at a saw he bought.  I even went into the basement, a place I'd never been allowed to go before (I asked as a kid and was told no, I didn't care as a teenager, and now I wanted to see it for myself).  The basement was stinky and anti-climatic.  There was a fridge full of mason jars and all I could think was, how in the hell did they get that fridge down here.  I assume there was lots of heavy lifting and profanity involved.

The only thing missing was the rest of the cousins and a wiffle ball game.  We never did find the wiffle ball and bat, but the satellite dish that was first base wasn't their either so it wouldn't have been the same.

Rardin cousins in front of the barn

Even though Grandpa is gone and we are losing Grandma to Alzheimer's, I'm happy to have found my cousins again to keep the Rardin memories and personalities alive.  I love hearing and telling the same stories about how Jason, the oldest cousin, at the age of 16 was put in time out for going outside and "did his time" in time out before driving himself away.  And I will never forget how proud Grandpa was when I was 21 and he asked me if I wanted a beer.  He was so proud to drink a beer with me and I with him.  And my sister and I still laugh about the time Grandpa asked if we wanted a beer and he said, "I've got the good stuff, The Select" (Budweiser Select).

I asked him once what his favorite kind of beer was and he said, "I prefer cold and I'll drink it warm, but free is the best".

The last Christmas we were all together my cousin's wife asked where their dog was and Grandma told her the dog had died.  Later my cousin Brooks asked my Grandpa when Susie, the St. Bernard, had died and Grandpa replied "when I shot her".  I know that sounds harsh to us city folk, but he was a country guy and that's what country guys do when they need to.  And it sounds awful that we laugh at that story, but that's him to a T.

Me on Grandpa's new tractor

After our visits with Grandpa when we were hugging and kissing goodbye, he would always say "If you can't be good, be good at it".  Reflecting back on his life reminds me to be a good wife and mother.  To love wholeheartedly and as hard as I can on my family and friends.  And as cliche as it sounds, life is short.  Don't waste my time on people who aren't worth it and focus on the good I have instead of what I don't have.  I can hear his voice in my head calling me a blockhead, a common term he used, when I catch myself in a moment of sadness with tears welling up behind my eyes.  So now, instead of getting to see him, I have his voice in my head and heart to help me through the tough times and drink a, proverbial, beer with me in the good times.

Grandpa, 2009, wearing the tiara to make his grandkids smile

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Girls Trip To Chicago

I spent this past weekend with my friends Alison, Brandi, and Melissa in Chicago and I had a great time!  We stayed with my friend Hanna, we met at Hanover College and were Chi Omega sorority sisters.  Hanna and her husband, Nathan, have a beautiful home and guest beds they willingly offered up.  We drove up on Friday night and after a visit, it was time for bed.

Saturday we started out the day by going to a neighborhood yard sale in another neighborhood.  I think Hanna really just wanted help carrying her purchases home.  The picture below is of Brandi and I carrying back the miniature farmhouse Hanna found.  She also found a side table and the group also brought back a croquet set and chandelier.  I found some Chicago Bears stuff for Daulton.

After a snack break, we headed back out to Andersonville for lunch.  That's Brandi on the left, Hanna in the middle, and me on the right.  We ate at Lady Gregory's and it was so good.  I'm glad I ate a big lunch because next we had to go to Navy Pier.  Brandi and Melissa were running in the Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday and we had to pick up their race packets.

I am the tallest and have the longest legs, you would think I would be able to keep pace with the group.  Turns out my body and mind were on vacation time and I was the slowest walker in the group.  It also didn't help that I was in a new-to-me part of Chicago and was gawking at everything and taking pictures.

Navy Pier was awesome and the weather was perfect.  The Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan were beautiful.  After an Italian dinner, the girls had to load up on carbs, we headed back to the house for a bonfire and girl talk.  It was a relaxing, wonderful day with good friends.

Race morning came and everyone got up, but me.  I was given special dispensation by the group to sleep in.  They said it very sweetly but we all know how unpleasant I am in the morning.  The runners ran their hearts out and I had a leisurely morning with Hanna and Alison.

After the race, Hanna took us to Chinatown for lunch and bubble tea.  Bubble tea is like a smoothie, but with green tea instead of milk.  I got Tapioca balls in mine and I'm going to be honest, its weird.  They are black balls, they look like marbles, at the bottom of your drink but they tasted like gummy bears to me.  I'm glad I tried it but I'm not sure I will get them again.  Add sesame chicken and a taste of what everyone else had and we were stuffed.

After showers for the runners and packing the car, it was time to head back home to Indiana.  I really enjoyed getting away for the weekend with friends.  Something about a new city, that's completely different than what you are used to, is relaxing and stimulating at the same time.  I was excited to try new things but I slowed down to truly experience what was going on around me.

And being away from home for a few days made me miss these guys like crazy.  I mean you can't stay away from these two for long.

All pictures are mine except for the first two which are Alison's.  You can follow me on Instagram, my username is abby_butts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The VMAs Make Me Feel Old

I grew up watching the VMAs and so did Matt.  So naturally when the VMAs were on tonight, we wanted to watch.  I was not prepared for how old I would feel watching the VMAs.

For my mom and everyone else who doesn't know what the VMAs are, the VMAs are the video music awards on MTV.  MTV is the music television network that doesn't play music.  Instead the broadcast the fascinating train wrecks that are Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, and the Jersey Shore.

The Comments Heard During the VMAs

Throughout the night, there was a lot of "who is that girl?" and "who is that guy?".

Matt:  Who is that?
Me:  Rhianna.
Matt:  I can't tell who these people are with the crazy costumes and sunglasses on.

Did Miley Cyrus and Pink call each other to make sure they had the same hairdo for the VMAs?  Do people still say hairdos?

Matt:  How do those One Direction kids fit into those skinny jeans?
Me:  I don't know, oil and a shoe horn, I guess?
Me:  Daulton, are you ever going to wear skinny jeans?
Daulton:  (quickly and emphatically) NO!

Daulton then informed us that one of the kids from One Direction smokes.  A little girl in his class told him, so obviously this is true... she has a poster of One Direction so she is an expert.

Who is Frank Ocean?

Lil Wayne forgot to pull his pants up before he went on stage.

Someone is going to trip on that skateboard.

Who is 2 Chains?  (Matt knew who he was, I still have no clue.)

Me:  Daulton, why do they call him 2 Chains?
Daulton:  I have no idea!
(He wears 2 chains around his neck, in case you were wondering.  I fear for the future of creativity.)

Green Day looks old!  I thought Green Day was a 3 man band, who is that 4th guy?

MTV now has to clarify which shows are scripted and which are reality?

Why are Wiz Khalifa's pants so short?  Where is the flood Wiz?  (For the record, I had to google how to spell Khalifa.)

I'm disappointed with the Twilight movie preview.  The fight scene at the end is not true to life, and by true to life I mean true to the book.  (That is a direct quote.  At this point Matt had a pained look on his face.  He doesn't like it when I talk Twilight.)

Taylor's shorts are short, but she doesn't look trashy.

What's with the crowd surfing?  I wouldn't want all those people touching me.

Bottom line is, you know you are old when the 8 year old knows more about the people on MTV than you do.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lazy Labor Day Weekend

I left work and my mom's 10th chemo treatment (only 2 more to go!) on Friday with every intention that this was going to be a productive 3 day weekend.  I was even plotting different ways I could sweet talk my husband into tackling some home improvement projects (he won't know I was plotting this until he reads this, hi Matt!).  But I came home on Friday, sat down with a stack of magazines, iPad, remote, and the dog and that was it for me.

We did some laundry and grocery shopping.  I cleaned the bathrooms.  And that was it.

It was wonderful and luxuriously lazy.  We took naps, lounged, watched too much TV, and I'm not proud of the amount of food I ate over the last 3 days but I'm not sorry either.  The rain and overcast weather from Hurricane Issac really helped encourage our slothful behavior.

I went into the long weekend with good intentions but these past 3 days turned out better than I ever could have planned.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just So I'm Clear

Matt and I were watching the Olympics and relaxing when we both heard a noise outside.  Here's the resulting conversation:

Me (looking at Matt):  What was that?

Matt:  I don't know.

Me:  Just so I'm clear, when I look at you and ask what that noise, I need you to answer the question.

Obviously, I'm not the one to ask about strange noises, especially outside noises.  I'm still a little jumpy after the raccoon incident (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4).


Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Olympic Sized Obsession

To say that my family is obsessed with sports is a massive understatement.  I knew Matt and Daulton were sports nuts but I didn't count myself in that category until the Olympics started on Friday night.  Its official, I'm obsessed with the Olympics (and Ryan Lochte).  Right now we are watching swimming.  Earlier today and yesterday we've watched:
  • Soccer - Men's & Women's (I cannot remember that the rest of the world calls it football.)
  • Beach Volleyball - Men's & Women's
  • Women's Table Tennis
  • Archery - Men's & Women's
  • Basketball - Men's & Women's
  • Gymnastics - Men's & Women's
  • Women's Skeet Shooting
  • Men's Volleyball
  • Women's Synchronized Diving
  • Cycling - Men's & Women's
  • Women's Tennis
  • Women's Field Hockey
  • Men's Boxing
  • Women's Rowing
  • Women's Fencing
Sports we want to watch:
  • Handball
  • Judo
  • Trampoline
  • Wrestling 
  • Weightlifting
  • Track & Field
  • Canoeing
So basically what I'm saying is if its an Olympic sport, we will watch it.

I am also obsessed with the medal count.  Right now China has 12 medals and USA is in second with 11.  Get it together USA!!

We even did some decorating of the fireplace and had fish & chips and onion & chicken rings during the opening ceremony.

Dixie gets the gold medal for cuteness.

Random Abby & Matt couple fact:  We both were vacationing with our families in Myrtle Beach during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and we both were staying up late and watched the Kerri Strug vault.  I think its a sign we were destined to watch many, many future summer Olympics together.

Go Team USA!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Know Its Not An Award, But...

My team at work has been working with IBM for a few months on a case study about the work we've done and it was published today.  I am very proud of the work I've done and the work my team has accomplished.  And for my non-technical friends and family, this case study also provides some insight into what I do 5 days out of the week.

Its nice to have a job that challenges me and that I enjoy and get paid to do.  Its even nicer to get recognition for our accomplishments by a company like IBM who is known all over the world.

I know its just a case study and not an award, but I can't pass the opportunity to say thanks to those that help me get to where I am today.

To my dad, who made me work for him and gave me a BASIC programming book one summer and told me to go figure it out.  I created many infinite loops that summer and a seed was planted that eventually turned into my career.

To Matt, who listens to me vent and talk about my projects.  He also makes sure there is always wine in the house.  He and Daulton also remind me to leave work at work and focus on family when I'm at home.

To my team, I know I am bossy, opinionated, and not friendly in the morning.  Thanks for putting up with me and remember to ask if I'm caffeinated before trying to talk to me in the morning.

To Sam Bridegroom, thanks for challenging me and not letting me slack off.  And if you aren't following Beyond The Defaults, you should be!

And to all the little girls out there who like math, science, and technology, its okay to like all those things and to be good at them.  You have so many skills and smarts to share with the world and the world needs more female brains like yours!  Stick with it, don't let anyone knock you down because you are smart, and remember to sit at the table (this video is worth your time).  Don't let the boys intimidate you or make you feel like you don't belong.  Anything they can do, you can do better.

Hendricks Regional Health builds apps to meet high standards - IBM Case Study


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 31st Birthday To Me!

Today is my 31st birthday.  Last year I had built up the birthday in my mind and this year I didn't really think about it beforehand so it wasn't as big of a deal.  I took today and tomorrow off from work and a 5 day vacation was a nice birthday present to myself.  I have no plans except for putzing around the house and probably taking a nap or two (or three).

Just like I have no plans for my vacation, I have no plans for 31st year of life.  What I said last year about my 20s still holds true.  I spent my 20s wanting and I'm going to spend my 30s enjoying what I have.

I am grateful for what I have.  I bought a calendar last fall while shopping for school supplies and my intention was to write down things that happened throughout the day.  Its evolved into a gratitude journal in addition to capturing our family history.  At the end of a long day, its nice to go to sleep thinking about the positives instead of only dwelling about the negatives.  I plan to continue this daily (okay, not always daily) practice.

I've started the Couch to 5K running program.  (Pick yourselves up off the floor if you fallen over at the shock of what you've just read.)  I was thinking about starting the program for a while and when my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in April 2012 running was the stress relief I needed.  With the heat we've had lately and my inability to get out of bed early in the morning, I have fallen behind.  But I ran over a mile today and the last time I could say that was in 2005 when I ran the Mini-Marathon.  I have a love/hate relationship with running.  I don't always like it while I'm doing it but I love how I feel afterwards.  (One of the things I am grateful for are my strong legs and lungs that are getting stronger with each run.)

Source: via Abby on Pinterest

I enjoy writing and I'm learning to see myself as a writer.  Writers write and I write, therefore I am a writer.  If you aren't following Beyond The Defaults, the technology blog for the average user I write with my friend Sam Bridegroom, then you can sign up for free email alerts and follow us on Facebook or Twitter as a birthday present to me.  If you like what you read, share it with others who might benefit from it.

I have an amazing husband and stepson who make me feel the luckiest woman alive.  I have good parents, a great sister, and I hit the in-law lottery with my in-laws (they spoil me rotten and I love every minute of it!).  My friends are the perfect blend of smart, sassy, funny, and fiercely loyal.  As I get older, the friendships and relationships get better with time.

With age comes certainty.  I'm more certain of who I am and what I believe in.  I'm 100% positive I made the right choice when I decided to spend the rest of my life with Matt.  I know that I am a positive influence in Daulton's life and while we don't share DNA, I love him like he is my own and he knows that.  I feel comfortable in my own skin and speaking my mind.  I like who I am which is a gift no one can give me but me.

"No one looks stupid when they're having fun" - Amy Poehler

Monday, July 2, 2012

8 Tips For Surviving Baseball In The Summer

I promise this isn't a post where I complain about the heat.  We all know its hot and talking about it doesn't make it any cooler.  Instead, I'm going to give you my tips for surviving the heat during the summer baseball season.

Daulton made the 8 year old All-Star team this year and that means we are spending our summer on the baseball field.  We are having fun and Daulton loves adding new trophies to his collection!

Tips For Surviving Baseball In The Summer

  1. Get a chair with vents in the seat that is easy to carry.  Trust me on the vents, sweaty back and butt is not comfortable.  If you happen to catch a breeze, you will be grateful for the vents.  Make sure its easy to carry as you never know how far you will have to go between your car and the field.  My in-laws got me a new chair for Mother's Day and I'm very grateful for the vents and that its easy to carry.
  2. Setup a canopy.  Most baseball fields are in open areas with no shade around.  With the canopy, you can make your own shade.  I know it feels like more work to carry it out and set it up, but you will thank me when its brutally hot and the shade is the difference between enjoying the game and misery.
  3. No canopy?  Make friends with someone who has one.  We do not technically own a canopy, but Daulton's mom does and we make sure to always help her carry it to and from the car (technically its Matt who does the carrying, but since we are married I can take the credit for it) and we help her set it up and take it down.  As a result, we have a permanent spot under the shade and its well worth the effort.
  4. Pack drinks and snacks.  Its hot and you need to stay hydrated.  There may be time between games and you will need a snack.  Trips to the concession stand can get expensive and the concession stand isn't known for its healthy options.  For what to pack, check out my mom's post on How To Eat Healthy At The Ballpark.
  5. Invest in a bag or wagon to help you haul everything.  I've told you what to bring, now you've got to get it to the field.  I use the Retro Metro bag or the Organizing Utility Tote from 31 Gifts to  carry everything.  I've seen other parents use wagons and it makes it easier to get the canopy, chairs, coolers, and everything else to the field.  
  6. Bring something to do.  We have to have Daulton at the game early and there is usually time to kill between games, so I like to bring something to do.  I usually use this time to catch up on my reading, so I will bring my Nook, iPad, and the occasional real book.  (I just finished The Host by Stephanie Meyer and it was amazing!)  
  7. Brush up on your cheerleading.  Be positive and encouraging.  Good job, good try, good inning (assuming its been a good inning), you can do it, find your pitch (only yell this when your team is batting), and shake it off are all acceptable to yell during a baseball game.  Its the coach's job to coach and your job to encourage and support. (tweet this)
  8. Make friends with the other parents.  You are spending the summer with these people and they are your fellow cheerleaders.  This was tough for me as we came into a new team that had already been established and I felt like the new kid.  But everyone was welcoming and friendly and it makes you realize that players, coaches, and parents are all on the same team.
The summer is what you make of it.  We are choosing to spend our time on the baseball field and the 8 tips above make it even more enjoyable.

Check out Daulton sliding into home!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Running with Daulton

I started a running program called Couch to 5K about four weeks ago to start exercising more and I needed the stress relief from everything that was going on with my mom.  I also work at a job where I sit for 8+ hours a day and if I'm not careful, my weight will go up while my health goes down.  And I said I wanted to take better care of myself when I turned 30 and that includes exercise.

Daulton has gone with me before but he usually rides his bike and chooses not to run.  Tonight, he decided he was going to run with me and "get some exercise".  Here's how it went down.

5 minute warm-up:  We synchronize our iPods so the clocks start at the same time.  We are using the C25K app by Zen Labs on our iPod Touches.  Daulton doesn't understand the meaning of warm-up and is walking very slowly.

2.5 minutes into the warm-up:  We only have 1 arm band for the 2 iPod Touches we own and its pink and clearly mine.  Of course Daulton wants it but I convince him before we leave the house to just wear shorts with pockets and tell him he will be fine.  My mistake.  We stop to trade iPods two minutes after leaving the house and Daulton is happy to finally have the iPod with arm band he wanted.

1st interval - 5 minute run:  It sounds like a 500 pound man is running behind me.  I can barely hear my music over Daulton's foot steps.  After two minutes, the foot steps are closer and louder and Daulton passes me.  And its just as loud as if he was behind me.

Daulton keeps the lead for another two minutes and then runs out of steam.  I pass him and then spend the next minute looking behind my shoulder to make sure he hasn't given up and trying to yell encouraging words at him.  I am not at the point where I can run and talk, so the only way I can talk is one word per breath.  It takes a long time to get out my words of encouragement.

3 minute walk:  Daulton looks miserable.  I tell him its not as easy as it looks and he agrees. We decide to head back to the house so he can get his bike and I have to pee.

2nd interval - 5 minute run:  We aren't home yet and its time for the next running interval.  Daulton is not pleased that I make him run home but he makes it.  He gets his bike, I do my business, we trade iPods again because I want my arm band back, and we are back out the door to finish the interval.

3 minute walk:  Daulton follows me on the bike pedaling at the speed I'm running, which is about two steps above glacial speed.  Luckily he does not fall over but it makes me feel like he is the van that picks up the stragglers at the mini marathon and its my encouragement to not stop as I'm afraid he will run me over.

3rd interval - 5 minute run:  Halfway through this interval Daulton asks if he can go home.  I can't hear what he says so I have to stop and turn around to listen to the question.  I am so close to being done so I send him home and finish the interval.

Cool down:  I head back to the house and get Dixie to take her for her evening walk.  Matt asks me how it was and my response was "hot".  He then gets me a drink and only asks me questions that I can grunt the answer to.

I am neither a graceful nor a natural runner.  It takes a lot of will power to get through it and not give up when it gets tough.  I'm happy that I'm doing it for me and I like the changes I'm already seeing in my legs (and compliments from the husband don't hurt either).  And even though we can't really converse while I'm running, I like having Daulton with me.  It keeps me motivated and I can't give up because that's not the example I want to set for him.

Together we've taken up yoga and running.  I wonder what we will do next.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Taking An Abby Day

I took the day off today and did nothing and it was absolutely wonderful.  No obligations, no email, and I only did whatever I wanted to do.  If you are able to take a day like this for yourself, I highly recommend it.  And do yourself a favor and set no expectations on the day.  I spent the morning sleeping in, enjoying coffee, and catching up on some reading.  I didn't get out of my pajamas until 1 PM.  It was awesome.

We have been busy lately.  Daulton turned 8 last month and I still haven't gotten around to taking the pictures off my camera.  We had a great time celebrating with family and friends and I can't believe he is 8 now.  He's not the little chubby 3 year old I fell in love with 5 years ago.  A smart, funny, and kind young man is in his place.

We went to an Indians game a few weeks ago and had a fantastic time.  Daulton's mom got us the tickets and we sat right behind the visitors dugout.  The starting pitcher gave Daulton a ball and then later, another player gave him a second ball.  Without hesitating, Daulton gave the second ball to the family sitting across the row who didn't have a ball.  It was very generous and Matt and I were both so proud of him.

We also got some bad news that my mom has Hodgkins lymphoma.  It is 100% treatable with chemotherapy so we are lucky that we can cure it, but it sucks to have to go through it.  If you want to follow her journey, I setup a blog at to keep family and friends informed while she goes through this journey.  She has already been through one round of chemo and it feels good to have the first one done and we know what to expect for the next round.  Daulton took the news very well and has been asking questions.  We've talked about what chemo is, that she will lose her hair, and that we have to be extra careful of washing hands and keeping germs away from her.

Baseball has also started for Matt and Daulton.  Its quite a shock going from the warmth and temperature controlled climate of basketball to the unpredictable spring weather.  I spent the first game with my hat on, snuggled in my fleece, sitting on a blanket, and keeping score with one glove on and one glove off (the glove was too big and I couldn't hold the pencil).  I only keep score and not stats and Matt can thank my dad for making me keep score for my siblings games for so many years.

Matt and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week.  Some days it feels like we have been married for forever and then other days it feels like just yesterday.  This is not a marriage post but I will say that I feel that being married is a choice and it takes work.  Some days are easier than others and I couldn't ask for a better husband.

This is only a small fraction of what we've been up to.  Quite frankly, I don't want to write it all out as it exhausts me just thinking about it and I'm sure you don't want to read it.  I'm also still writing at Beyond The Defaults so you can also find me over there (and sign up for email alerts) or like us on Facebook if you want to be notified when a new post is up.

This post was Daulton approved.  If you don't know what that means then you should read this:  My Son Grounded Me From Facebook.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Here We Go Again

I was single when I bought the house we now live in and one of the selling points of this house was that the lot backs up to a wooded area.  In my single, suburban mind I was thinking "Great! I don't have any neighbors back there".  It never crossed my mind that wooded areas contain woodland creatures.

Yes, this is another animal post.  No, there are no animals living in the garage.  At least not right now.

Matt and Dixie spent at least 30 minutes on Friday evening watching two rabbits in the backyard.  I watched for about 5 minutes because they were just sitting there doing nothing and I got bored.  Matt and Dixie were riveted.

For the 5 minutes I did watch, they were eating, hopping around, and jumping over each other which was  fun to watch.  

But my fun turned to horror when Matt said, "That's it, I'm buying rabbit food".

Here we go again.

Luckily, the rabbits are not babies and there is no chance of capture and housing them in the garage.  Its not a raccoon and they are pretty cute.  And really, once you've had a raccoon living in your garage (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) some rabbits in the backyard that your husband may or may not feed and try to befriend are no big deal.

Some of you may be wondering where the Daulton content is.  There's been a change in the editorial review process and any Daulton related posts will now go through Daulton for approval.  For the story and how we came to this decision, you can read more here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Name That Dessert

We had a discussion the other night about what dessert Daulton took to school for lunch.  We asked him what he had and this is what we got.  I'm going to give you the clues and let's see if you can figure it out.

Its yellow.

Its square.

Its a cake, square cake.

Its like a cake but its stringy when you pull it apart.

Its got bumps on it and "the bumps are very tasty".  (That's a direct quote.)

The bumps are not sprinkles.

It comes in a blue, yellow, and white wrapper with bees on it.

Any guesses?

The final answer is Rice Krispies treat.

Did you get it right?

Yeah, neither did we.  We had to text Daulton's mom to figure out what the dessert was because we had no idea what the dessert was either.

The cake and bees clues really threw me off as I was thinking cake and not rice krisipie treats.  And there aren't any bees on the wrapper, its Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

Image Source: Amazon

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dixie Got A Haircut

I like to think we are great dog owners, we give Dixie love, affection, food, and she's got a great life.  But we don't always get her groomed as often as we should and she often looks like a a ragamuffin.  

The other reason we don't get her groomed as often as we should is because its a big pain to take her.  She doesn't like to ride in the car, so its an issue to get her in the car and then she flops around everywhere since she hasn't figured out how to ride in the car.  And once we get to the groomers, there are new smells to check out and my arch nemesis when I'm with Dixie...cats.  There are several cats that live at the groomers and pretty much go wherever they want.  One time, a cat walked by Dixie and waved its tail under her nose (I'm pretty sure it was just to taunt her) and there was almost a blood bath.

This time, Dixie put on the brakes when it was time to go back.  She refused to walk and the girl had to drag her back, with her looking back at me like I was abandoning her (her being the dog).  I had to hide behind a wall so she would stop being such a pain.  Matt says I didn't have to hide behind the wall, but he wasn't there and I think I was justified.  

I have no idea what happens during the actual grooming.  I pay the groomer so I don't have to be a part of that process.  I assume she's a pain, because I've been told she's been "needy" before by another groomer which felt like a parent teacher conference where I'm told my kid is the worst kid in the class.  As a result, I usually end up over tipping to compensate for her behavior and if we're being honest here, my guilt over my ridiculous dog.

But its all worth it because she looks so cute with a haircut.  The bows in her ears and scarf on her neck make her look like a fluffy teddy bear.  And its impossible to get a picture of how cute she is so you will just have to take my word for it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just Relaxing

Just relaxing on the couch with his 7UP and light up wine glass.  He's living the dream!

I don't know where he gets it from.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Party 2nd Grade Style

I had a chance to go to Daulton's Friendship Party last Friday and help out.  I was introduced to the class as Mrs. Butts and I heard a few kids ask Daulton who I was and was proud when he told them "she's my stepmom" with a smile on his face.  I was in charge of the hula hoop game which required getting 7 and 8 year olds to join hands and pass the hula hoop around the circle without breaking hands and in their case, not falling over and no major injuries.

I have much admiration and respect for teachers.  Being in charge of a classroom of kids from different backgrounds, with different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and quirks is challenging.  I also admire anyone who has the patience to repeat themselves several times throughout the day.  I don't have that kind of patience.

During the hour long party, I was surprised how often I repeated myself.
No, we aren't going to hula hoop.

You (I didn't know his name), keep your shoes on.

Need me to tie your shoes?  (Commence shoe tying.)

Easy!  Don't throw the hula hoop at each other.

Help each other!

No jumping.  (This was after the teacher sternly told us to stop jumping.)

Everyone hold hands.  Yes, everyone.  (A few of the girls made a fuss about holding hands with a few of the boys.)

No, we aren't going to hula hoop.

Remember be easy, don't take each other out with the hula hoop.

Them:  You are really tall.

Me:  Yes I am.

You, put your shoes on.  (Still don't know his name.)

Stop squeezing hands.  (Why do boys do this?)

No jumping.

How is your shoe untied again?  Can I double knot them?  (I was not tying them a third time.)

I had a bit of a standoff with a girl who kept going feet first instead of head first, which meant she almost fell over every time it was her turn and she would've taken out the person next to her.  She tried the "well she did it so I did it" to which I responded "go head first or you are done".  There was then some intense eye contact and she then complied.

You, how do your shoes keep coming off?  (At this point, even if I knew his name I would only be able to refer to him as "Shoes".)

No, we aren't going to hula hoop.

I really enjoy watching Daulton "in his natural environment" and watching him interact with his friends.  And other than the reading date we had, its only the second time I've been to Daulton's school by myself.  It was also really sweet to see Daulton happy to see me and for me to be a part of his class.

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!

Image Source:  My fabulous friend Hanna

Monday, January 30, 2012

Teaching Good Enough

Sometimes, I just need arts and crafts time.  It feels good to do something with my hands, that's not on the computer, and be able to see the finished project.

I bought a heart punch, Valentines Day themed scrapbook paper, and scrapbook adhesive squares and Daulton and I got to work.  My inspiration came from this post on the Flower Patch Farmgirl and then I saved it to Pinterest.  Check out my post on Beyond The Defaults for more information on Pinterest and let me know if you want an invitation.

Daulton was a very good helper and after I showed him how to work the hole punch, he got right to work.  He only took a few breaks to watch iCarly and later to play Wipeout on the Xbox Kinect (holy crap am I sore from playing that game!).

Once we had about 500 hearts punched out (I had no idea we would have 500 hearts until we had 500 hearts punched out), we started assembling the 3-dimensional hearts and attaching them to string.  Daulton watched me put a few together and then decided he was going to try it.

And then he asked me, "Hey Ab, do they have to be perfect?".

I know he was only talking about putting together a Valentines Day craft, but it felt like one of those life lesson moments.  And after a quick glance at Matt, I could see he felt the same way.

So I told him, "Nope, they don't need to be perfect.  They just need to be good enough.  Do you know what that means?"

He said he didn't so we both explained that perfect doesn't exist but its important to always try to do your best.  Matt said it best when he said, "Do you know the difference between good enough and perfect?  Its in your head."

It was the confirmation he needed that I wasn't expecting perfection and we cruised through the rest of the assembly and he helped me hang them around the house.

Were all the hearts perfect?  No, far from it and I had just as many imperfect hearts as he did but that didn't matter because the project turned out great.  It was a fun project for us to do together and it satisfied my need for arts and crafts time.  And for being such a good helper, he got some heart surprises hanging outside of his door this morning.

Why yes, that is a basket of balls on my fireplace.  They say to work with what you've got and that's what we've got lying around everywhere.  It keeps them contained and easily accessible, everyone wins.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday Dixie!

Today is Dixie's 5th birthday.  Technically, its the day we celebrate Dixie's birth and its the anniversary of when we got her because we don't know her actual birthday.  Dixie doesn't mind, she's just happy to get the extra attention.  And I think the fact that she used to live in a prison allows her to be grateful for her current situation.

Dixie is an interesting character as she's not like a regular dog.  She doesn't know how to play and instead her entire focus in life is getting attention and petted.  If you sit down, she is instantly by your side nudging your hand or trying to jump into the chair with you.  At night, I have to race her to the bed because if she gets there first she tends to lay with her head on my pillow and I don't like that.  The only time she is not focused on getting attention is when she smells an animal and then her hunting drive kicks in.  She pulled me into a tree once as I was riding a bike and holding her leash because she caught wind of a rabbit.  And heaven help us if she sees a cat.

To celebrate her birthday, she received lots of love and attention, had her rubber toy filled with peanut butter, extra treats, and some cheeseburger and fries courtesy of her Uncle Jake.  And yes, I sang her Happy Birthday and made her wear the birthday hat.  I did not hang the birthday banner, but since she can't read I didn't think she would mind.

Neither Matt or I have ever had a dog like her, but she's the best dog either of us has ever had and our family wouldn't be complete without her.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Counting Hits

I came across this video on YouTube the other day and instantly thought of my siblings.  No, we didn't hit each other in the faces with iPads but that's only because iPads hadn't been invented then.

It also brought back other memories of how we used to beat the crap out of each other and count the number of hits received and owed.  My brother would hit me, I would then owe him one hit back to be inflicted at any time.  Being able to redeem your hit at any time was great if you were the hitter and terrifying if you were the recipient.  I never knew when my brother or sister would strike, literally.

The best part of this story is that our grandmother is the one who inspired this system.  We were at her house and someone got hit and tattled, grandmother's response was very simple "well, hit 'em back".

Game On Grandmother.  Game On.

We also would build up a bank of hits and if my sister was out of hits and mad at our brother, I could give her one and vice versa.  It was a complicated and efficient system of retribution.

I know for a fact we drove our parents crazy with it and now that I'm older, I admit that at a certain point I just started making up numbers of how many hits I had.  I'm pretty sure Jacob and Laura did the same.  And the violence we inflicted on each other obviously didn't kill us as we all turned out to be successful adults.

In addition to learning how to fight and stand your ground, we also learned about forgiveness... even though we didn't know it at the time.  You can't be mad at someone for too long when you share a room, bathroom, and living space with.  And you never knew when alliances would shift and the sibling you were mad at would be your partner and help you gang up on the other sibling.  You can't have a successful alliance if you are still mad about the fight you had 5 minutes ago, so you get over things pretty quickly.

There's no point in holding a grudge when you are guilty of the same thing your sibling is.  We all make mistakes and lose our tempers.  Let it go and move on.

So mom and dad, I know we drove you crazy with our fighting but I learned how to stand up for myself, where to hit so it doesn't leave a mark, how to forgive, and to get over it from fighting with my siblings.  It only took 30 years, but lesson learned.


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