A year in faces: Seren


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A few years ago I took a picture of the kids every day for one full year. I used several different cameras throughout the year, and most of the pictures are red-eyed and messy. I made a point of not editing any of them. It was a quasi-photo documentary. Brecken’s video is here, and Karis’s video is here.

I thought it would be cool to do the same for Seren for her first year of life. Some of the photos were taken with my Canon, and some with my crappy iPhone. You can tell the difference. It’s damn near impossible to take a non-blurry picture of a kid with an iPhone.

I really like the end result. A lot of these pictures are edited, but mostly just light levels and stuff because often I would take the pictures in low light and they would be too dark and grainy. I find it fun to watch the baby grow from a spotted, wrinkled little grub into a sweet toddler.



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Seren is officially one

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My baby girl has been all the way around the sun. Yesterday was her first birthday, and we celebrated with Aunt Dani and Apple Josh coming over for cake and her favorite dinner – pasta and broccoli. We had a star theme for her party. The kids watched me make the cake, then played with the left over fondant until the back patio table was a sugary mess and Brecken had eaten enough to fell a horse. Gross. Here is the result of our efforts:


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As I was decorating it I overheard Karis telling Brecken about the symbolism of their first birthday cakes. (She came up with this all on her own – I never really thought much about symbolism in cakes and party hats.) Each of the kids have a party hat that I add a decoration to every year. Karis’s decoration happens to be flowers because I had a bunch of them and thought they’d make a cute hat. Brecken’s decoration is dots because those were easy to cut out of felt, and seemed masculine to me. Karis’s first birthday cake was my first foray into fondant, and I decorated it with flowers because that was the shape of the cookie cutter I had. Brecken’s first birthday cake was an adorable rubber ducky. I’d show you a picture but there are none. So. Anyway, this is the conversation I overheard:

Karis: “Seren’s cake and hat have stars on them because her name means ‘star’. My cake and hat had flowers because my name means ‘grace’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love’ and that’s what flowers stand for. Your cake was a duck, I’m not sure why, but your hat has spots on it because your name means ‘freckles’.”

Brecken: “Really?”

Karis: “Yup.”

I just laughed quietly to myself and kept cleaning up the kitchen. I don’t know where that child comes up with this stuff, but I love watching her thoughts unfold.

Enjoy these photos of Miss Seren experiencing her first birthday cake!


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And last but not least the picture I forced Jesse to take at exactly 3:01 PM. “Hurry, hurry! It’s three oh one! Take a picture of us!”


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Happy birthday, kid. I’m so glad you picked us to be your family!

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Comic relief

For some reason my Comic Life program wont let me save or export anything, so please enjoy this blurry screen cap I managed to take of a little comic I made up of Seren in her explorations.



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Sweet Pickle

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I’m not a fan of pickles. Some people are, but not me. Pickles seem to be very provocative fruits. Or are they vegetables? What the hell is a pickle, anyway? Whatever classification it falls under, the pickle is not something one can be apathetic about. You either love it or hate it. There is no Switzerland of pickles.

I remember a book company (?) (I’m not sure what kind of company it was actually)

SIDE NOTE: Look at all of these things I could Google but choose not to!

I remember a company I was somehow exposed to as a child that called itself Sweet Pickles. I can even remember their jingle, and the fact that whatever product they sold (books? Magazines?) came with a scratch-n-sniff sticker that smelled like a pickle.

Um, gross.

I can still smell that sticker smell. After all these years it is still as unappealing as ever.

Oh Jesus. I Googled it. This came up:



Along with this commercial came a rush of childhood feels. I am amazed, for example, that even now, at the age of 36, I still irrationally hate the face of the girl in pigtails in this commercial. I had no memory of this girl until watching this old commercial, but now I *do* remember her, and my completely unprovoked dislike of her and her stupid face. I still do that. I still have gut reactions to perfect strangers based on their faces. I don’t like Jamie Bell’s face. I’m sure he’s a lovely person, and I don’t mean he isn’t handsome, I just don’t like his face. (Sorry Jamie Bell – I love you in Turn!)

My god, what a bizarre turn this blog post has taken. (And isn’t it bizarre how “bizarre” is spelled? I would think it should be spelled b-i-z-z-a-r-e. *shrug*)

All of this rambling is a result of my wanting to share with you my latest crochet baby gift. It needs back-story explanations lest you think me in need of counseling. (In an ironic twist, my pre-back-story rambling has illuminated just how much counseling I do need.) You see, my latest crochet gift is a baby rattle that is a pickle, but unfortunately also looks like a diseased phallus.

In answer to your next obvious question of why the hell would I make a baby a pickle rattle for any reason, but especially considering my dislike of all things pickled, I will say this: This baby’s dad makes his own pickles. I’m told they’re good, but I refuse to actually eat any of them because, well, see above. I think he’s starting his own pickle company and it has a very clever name that goes well with his last name. Anyway, I thought it would be cute for his new baby to have a pickle rattle.


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Seriously though, you guys, pickled things are gross. Eggs, cabbage, cucumbers, severed toes… I refuse to eat any of these things.

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There’s no I in self-publish. Oh, wait…

I’m about to publish a new novel, Internet! Well, maybe “new” isn’t the best descriptive word. Let’s try new-to-you. It’s actually the first full length novel I ever wrote. I wrote it back in 2009, but never really found the right fit for it with a publishing house, so I’ve decided to publish it myself. There are a handful of people that have helped me along the way, so I’d like to tip my hat to them in this little blog post.

I’d like to thank Alexis Ayers (That’s a pen name, but I thought she’d like me to give you guys a link to her stuff rather than use her real name in my thank you.) for taking the time to give me tips on self-publishing and ways to market my creations. It’s always heart warming when someone shares their experience with the new-comers. One of the tips she gave me was telling me about this guy.

My biggest obstacle when self-publishing is cover design. I’m a bit artsy-fartsy, and when I design a cover I pay way too much attention to what I want it to feel like for the story, and not enough attention to what will look good, or pop on a virtual bookshelf in thumbnail form. James over at Go On Write¬† is a graphic designer that makes ready-made book covers, so all you have to do is buy one and change the title to your own. Pre-made book covers are a dime a dozen on the internets. What I like about James’s covers it that they’re actually good. Plus, James is very funny. His dummy titles have a tongue-in-cheek quality that remind you never to take yourself too seriously. Here are some of my favorite dummy titles:


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 All of these covers are available at goonwrite.com. Extra points to you if you keep these titles!

Anyway, if you’re into steamy fare in your reading pursuits please check out Alexis Ayers, and if you’re looking for some quality book covers give James’s site a gander. Aside from reminding me of the good, snarky qualities of Hemingway, James also offers other services for self-publishers like editing and formatting. So far, everyone I’ve worked with over there has been a delight. You can check them out while you’re trying to contain your excitement over my book coming out!

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Daddy’s little girl


Both Karis and Seren idolize their father in a way that is decidedly different than Brecken. While Brecken thinks his daddy is the strongest, most amazing ninja warrior on the planet (as well he should) the girls look at him in a different light. He is their Prince Charming. I remember fondly the elaborate weddings Karis used to throw for the two of them when she was three. I was NOT invited. (I was the other woman) I was relegated to watching discretely from the upstairs window. There were flowers and gowns and passionate kisses. She was deliciously dramatic. I find myself eagerly anticipating being dethroned once again when Seren is old enough to play the part of the bride.

My girls are not alone in their hero-worship of their father. Last weekend some family friends came for a visit and they asked if we would snap a family photo of them. We set up the backdrop in the hot garage and chaotically clicked away, managing to capture a few keepers. This one was my favorite. They were between set ups, and it was a silly moment between father and daughter. I think it really shows that special parent-child bond.


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I guess there’s just something about daddies.

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Another year, another carrot cake

Jesse celebrated turning 38 and still being smokin’ hawt yesterday. In honor of the event I made him carrot cupcakes. There are only so many ways one can dress up a carrot cupcake to apologize for it being a carrot cupcake and not a real cupcake. This year I cut heart shapes out of raw carrots as cake toppers. They turned out adorable, and my husband, who is amazing in so many ways, actually noticed the effort it took to form raw root vegetables into hearts.

I made two versions. The lots-of-frosting version popular with the kids:


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And the just-a-drizzling version which Jesse appreciated because of his unnatural aversion to sweet things. (Except me; I’m sweet and he’s totally not averse to me!):


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In addition to “cake” he received cards from the kids. These cards… These cards were gut-wrenchingly beautiful. I did not tell them to make him cards. They took it upon themselves and each privately made him a card. They were detailed and specific and spoke to what a wonderful father he is. I teared up when I read them. Jesse didn’t cry, but that’s because he’s 94% robot.

I also took him for a float in the sensory deprivation tank. I am proud to report that neither of us peed this time. And tonight Dani is going to watch our spawn so we can go have a pint at a local Irish pub. Ohmygosh I must love this man if I’m going to choke down a beer in his honor! At least it will be a Guinness. Of all beer, Guinness sucks the least.


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Random midnight update

Today was Jesse’s birthday, so I forced surprised him into going for a float. Guess what? I didn’t pee in the tank this time! Yay me. (The trick is to ignore everyone’s advice and *not* drink a gallon of water before going.)

Also of note today, the exterminator came in response to the dead little visitor I found by the fireplace. He said my house was “way too clean” to have a roach problem, and judging from the location of the roach and the condition of my house he thinks the little guy wandered in when we left the screen door open, or maybe the dog brought him in.

I’m gonna go with The Wizard’s First Rule* on this one and happily assume there are no bugs up in here.


*People will believe anything you tell them because they fear it is true or they want it to be true.

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Insults and injuries. (Not in that order.)

Yesterday Jesse took out a small loan to pay for the kids to play on giant inflatables at a local “pumpkin patch”. Note the quotation marks. It was really a parking lot with blowup obstacles and a palate of pumpkins, all for the bargain price of TWENTY BUCKS, PER HOUR, PER KID. Highway robbery.


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The kids enjoyed themselves for the first half hour. The second half hour was spent getting friction burns on all their limbs and butts. When they came home they were a dark gray color, as if God had Photoshopped them to gray-scale in the regular world. It was silt from the bounce toys. Naturally Brecken freaked out at the thought of water touching his burns, but I managed to coax him into the tub to scrub him down and return him to his vibrant, full color self. Brecken must have liked the tub, ’cause he put a ring on it. Ha! Ya see what I did there, Internet? A ring around the tub?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… I found THIS disgusting creature next to my fireplace:


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At least he had the decency to be dead. I’m not foolish enough to believe he was a lone wolf. I’m sure his exes, in-laws, second cousins, college roommates and extended family members are somewhere in my midst.

Not for long, bitches. Not for long…

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A pee in the pod

I went for a float today, Internet. For those of you unfamiliar with floating it’s where you enclose yourself in a sensory deprivation chamber and float suspended in saltwater in the pitch black darkness of a steel womb. Or something like that.

I know what you’re thinking – how clean is the water? Well, before I went in the guy showed me the state of the art filtration system that uses filters, oxygen, and UV light to clean the solution after each use. “Twenty eight people floated this weekend.” He said. “Imagine how filthy this water would be if we didn’t clean it? People pee, and sweat and bleed – I mean, I don’t know! All kinds of gross stuff.” Yeah. If he was trying to make me feel better about the water quality it wasn’t working. After a bit of a science lesson I began to feel a little less grossed out. I shrugged. Hell, people bathe in the Ganges and live to tell about it, right? This couldn’t be worse than that.


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The float center consisted of the reception area, a waiting room, two float rooms separated by a large room that held the filtering equipment, and waaay down the hallway was a bathroom. I had researched the place beforehand and in addition to learning about the filters, I also read that the saltwater makes you really thirsty and to drink a lot of water before going in. I used the restroom right before going into my float room.


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The float room is a tiny little room that has the giant float tank along one wall – I’m not gonna sugar coat it for you, Internet; it totally looks like a cremation vault or what I imagine gas chambers could have looked like in WWII. So there’s that. The rest of the float room is a shower stall and a small shelf with ear plugs, and a hook for your clothes. That’s it. Notice I didn’t compare it to a bathroom, because there isn’t a toilet in there.


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 photo float4_zpsc4374799.jpg Inside The Tank A.K.A. Where the pee goes

Okay, so, I stripped down, rinsed off, and entered The Tank. At first I left the vault door open a crack so I didn’t get turned around in the tank. Ain’t nobody wants to get lost in a dark, salty tank. It was definitely different than anything I have done before. I kept asking myself, “Am I relaxing?” and answering myself, “I guess so…” After what I’m guessing to be about ten to fifteen minutes I figured I was an old pro at this floating business and decided to close the vault door all the way. I was so glad I did! It was exponentially more mind blowing to be in complete darkness. Suddenly I felt like I was floating in space. It was surreal. It was neato. It was rad. It was any number of nineteen-eighties catch words.

Then I realized I had to pee.

I held it. I held it for a good long while, sacrificing true relaxation for the greater good of the floating community. But then I couldn’t hold it anymore, Internet. Getting out, showering, drying off, dressing, and hiking down the hallway to pee was out of the question. Now, let me be clear here, Internet. I don’t pee in pools. Your hot tub is safe from me and my urine. But I do pee in the shower, and on occasion I have been known to pee in my own bathwater. Half of you just retched and exclaimed loudly, “Eww, GROSS!” and the other half of you just thought, “Yeah? So?”

Anyway, as I floated in the steel womb I thought it must be about as close to experiencing being inutero as a person can realistically get. Then I thought about watching Brecken go pee during the ultrasound where we found out his sex. You could see his bladder go from black to empty. I thought back to the guy praising the filtration system, basically telling me to go pee in the tank, and I thought about all the time I was wasting thinking about peeing when I should be floating in space. So I peed.

Then I peed again.

And again, fifteen minutes later.

All in I peed five times in that tank you guys. By the time I got out I was probably floating in 50% urine. I know, I’m really selling you guys on this whole experience, aren’t I? I would like to survey a bunch of people who have floated and ask them if they peed in the tank while floating. Half of them would say yes, and the other half would be lying. Nobody hydrates up, then spends ninety minutes floating in warm salt water and doesn’t go pee. It just isn’t done.

In closing, I would definitely recommend floating at least once in your lifetime. It is rather relaxing, and it helped alleviate some shoulder pain I’ve been having because apparently I have forgotten how to sleep without contorting myself into a twisted knot. If you’re skeeved out by all the peeing that’s fine, I get it, but just think about all the times you’ve been in the ocean or a public pool. You already marinate in pee all the time. You might as well have fun pretending you’re floating in space while you’re at it.

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