Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Spilling the Beans...

The Facts

We told our families the big news.

His Side

When you find out big information like the fact you’re going to become a father for the first time, you want to tell the world. Unfortunately, it’s become the norm to wait a little while to spill the beans. There is a higher risk of miscarriage in the first 12 weeks or so which makes waiting a safer bet. That waiting is tough, though. 

Telling family, however, is something that we wanted to do sooner. We wanted to wait until we had gotten the first ultrasound, though. This issue we ran into was that we were going to be on vacation with my side of the family on on the week we could schedule the first ultrasound. So, we had to schedule it for the week we got back from vacation. That was terrible because being on vacation with my side of the family would have been the perfect opportunity to tell them. Especially because this would be the first grandkid/great grandkid on my side.

As the week of vacation went on, Kristi didn’t feel her best. She had to opt out of some things that aren’t as safe for pregnant women and she was tired a lot. We decided that we would go ahead and tell them. This made my week!

First we told my parents on the beach after a lackluster dinner out. It certainly made up for the mediocre dinner! They were ecstatic and, of course, had a ton of questions. We had a nice walk down the beach with just them after breaking the news and we got to talk all about it. We were going to wait to tell the rest of the family for another couple of days though. That was the hard part… especially for my mom. 

We told my grandparents by saying “you’re really good grandparents. And you’re going to be great grandparents.” They understood immediately and we excited. This would be the first time any of them were going to have a great grandchild so they will have to cope with the title of “Great Grandma” and “Great Grandpa” but I think they’ll do just fine!

When we got back from vacation, we told Kristi’s mom and she was surprised and excited. She already has two grandkids but, if you saw her reaction, you would realize that she was just as thrilled about this one as she was about her other two. I guess hearing that news never gets old!

You only get to tell your family that you’re having your first child one time and it is such a joy getting to share that moment with them in person. I am very glad we did it the way we did.

Her Side

From the very moment that we found out I was pregnant, we were extremely excited to tell both of our families. While we wanted to tell them immediately, we decided that we would wait until after our first ultrasound appointment at 9 weeks before we told anyone. Well, we soon realized that our vacation with Nolan’s family just so happened to be the week before our first appointment and his entire family would be there. He mentioned wanting to go ahead and tell them, but I was still hesitant. Unfortunately, plans don’t always work out how we want them to, and these weren’t any exception. I was feeling pretty fatigued and foods were very iffy for me. Thank goodness I never got sick, but feeling nauseous was enough torture for me! I didn’t want his family to think I was being a big stick in the mud and we realized that, as our week at the beach went on, it would get harder to conceal our secret. So, we made the decision to tell Nolan’s parents.

Something to note here is that this baby will be a first of many on Nolan’s side of the family; the first grandchild for his parents, and the first great-grandchild on both sides of his family.

So, after dinner one night we decided to walk with Nolan’s parents along the beach back to our place and tell them on the walk. I was so nervous! Not because I didn’t know how they would react, but because I get nervous at basically everything, so thank goodness Nolan likes to talk… We took a picture of them and instead of the normal “1,2,3, cheese,” Nolan switched it to “1,2,3, first time grandparents!” The looks on their faces were priceless and their reactions were awesome!

Later in the week, I finally decided I was okay with telling the rest of Nolan’s family. I didn’t want to deprive him of the opportunity to tell them face-to-face. So, Nolan casually slipped it into conversation with his granny and grandma and grandpa (in separate conversations with each). He mentioned how they are pretty good grandparents, but would be GREAT grandparents. I thought this was a rather clever way to spill the beans! Again, they were ecstatic and it was exciting to finally be telling our families.

As soon as we got back in town from vacation we wanted to tell my mom. We brought her back some taffy (since she loves that stuff!) and decided to put it in a bag to give her. On the outside of the bag I wrote “ To: Grandma… From: Baby Collins”. So, we gave her the bag and waited for her to realize what the outside said. As soon as she realized what it meant, she was also very excited and slightly shocked I think. Her baby is having a baby… that has to be a weird feeling! Words can’t express how glad I was to finally tell my mom.

While telling our families didn’t work out exactly how I had envisioned (especially when it came to my siblings), I’m so excited to be able to share this special moment in our lives with all of them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Finding out the big secret...

The Facts

We found out that we are expecting our first child.

His Side

Ever since we joined a local gym, I have been getting out of bed at the way-to-early hour of 6:30. To some people, this may be a normal time to get out of bed and start the day. Not to me. Normally, I get to the gym a little before 7 and spend an hour or so working out. Then I’ll get home, have a snack and make our lunches that we will take to work. April 27th was different.

As I was finishing up on the treadmill, Kristi texted me to ask when I was going to head home. This may not seem like a strange question, but sometimes it isn’t common for her to even be out of bed and awake enough to text me. If she is up at that time, she’s busy getting ready for work. So, I thought something was up. I didn’t know what but my mind was working as I drove home.

We were in our second month of trying to conceive so I thought maybe she’s pregnant! But then I thought that probably wasn’t it. I figured it would take more than two months. When I got home, though, I was in for a wonderful surprise. I gave Kristi a kiss and she told me she got me a card. So I opened it, and as I read it, the message became clear. She also happened to be taking video of the big reveal so you can see it all over my face as the realization hits me. 

Needless to say, I was excited and couldn’t think about much else at work that day. I knew we were in for a big, thrilling journey that would change our lives forever.

Her Side

The Monday morning in question started out like most others. Nolan got out of bed to go to the gym at a ridiculously early hour (well, technically, anything before 8:00am falls into this category for me) and I stayed in bed so I could get a little bit more rest before the work week was to kick off. On this particular morning I had already told myself I would take a test just for fun… and no, I’m not talking about one of those millions of “tests” or quizzes you can take on Facebook at any given moment… I’m talking about a pregnancy test. Let me tell you how I expected that morning to pan out. I thought I would roll out of bed, take the aforementioned test, and continue to get ready for the morning just as normal because I fully expected it to say “NOT PREGNANT”. Boy was I in for a surprise when a short 3 minutes later that little stick said “PREGNANT”. I thought for a moment that my eyes were deceiving me and I was still in a fog from just waking up. So, I blinked a few times and squinted to make sure I read it correctly. Sure enough, it was there plain as day… PREGNANT. 

Moments after I found out the results, I texted Nolan to see when he would be home from the gym as I couldn’t contain my excitement or the news for much longer. By the time he got home I had a card ready for him that would share the good news. I acted pretty nonchalant (if I do say so myself) when he walked in the door and I acted as if I had come across a card that had been stowed away for a while that I wanted to give him. I managed to set up my phone to capture his reaction and it was glorious. You can see the look on his face as he realized what the card was saying… He is going to be a DAD!  I will NEVER forget that moment.

Now, after the shock of everything began to wear off I started to question the accuracy of the test I had taken. Yes, the company boasts the 99.9% accuracy of its test, but that .01% is what I was honing in on. So, I scheduled an appointment that day for a blood test with my doctor just to make sure I didn’t take the 1 in a million test that was faulty. Just as the doctor and I suspected, the blood test confirmed that I am indeed pregnant. I guess at this point I should admit that I took another home test later in the week because I still didn’t quite believe it. Nolan thought I was insane, but kindly kept all comments to himself… and yes, it still said PREGNANT.

Later that week I set up my OB/GYN appointment to have our first ultrasound. When they told me they like to set up the first appointment for somewhere between 8 and 10 weeks, I was disappointed. So, for a solid month all I had to go on was a home test and a blood test… well, and the occasional nauseous feeling and extreme aversion to certain foods, I guess. But other than that, I was forced to put my faith in the accuracy of those tests.

So, my first lesson(s) on this journey of being pregnant are trust and patience. Two things that aren’t always easy for me to embrace, but are proving to be extremely important for my sanity.

Words can’t express how excited Nolan and I are to be on this new journey in life together. To think that by the end of the year (if all goes well) I will be a mom and he will be a dad is something I can’t even begin to comprehend!

Friday, November 21, 2014


The Facts

We made quinoa stuffed bell peppers - a meatless dish with beans.

His Side

As a man, I need meat to survive. In the hunter-gatherer sense of the word, yes, I “need” it. It’s something that is just born in most men. Bacon, steak, BBQ chicken, lamb chops, ribs, pulled pork, etc. I am a carnivore. Not only is all of this meaty deliciousness simply better tasting than a salad, but it also is packed with protein which is an important part of any diet. So, when Kristi suggested we don’t eat meat for a week, I said that we need protein so we can’t do that. To which she replied “we’ll eat beans.”

Whoa… hold up… beans? If you know me, you’ll know that I get pegged as a “picky eater” because I don’t like beans. It’s the texture (they are like eating paste) AND the taste which don’t appeal to me. I like guacamole and Kristi says it has the same texture as beans; but guacamole tastes good enough to overlook the texture issues and you dip chips in guacamole so the crunchy element helps rectify the pasty texture. 

With that being said, I agreed to try some new things because I love my wife. I even told her I wouldn’t complain. I would, however, tell her my un-sugarcoated thoughts if she asked. And Kristi didn’t waste any time taking full advantage of my willingness to try some meatless, bean filled dinner options. She made quinoa stuffed bell peppers. This was a decent start to our meatless journey because I liked all the ingredients in it except for the black beans. I also think you could put some ground beef or something in there and it would still taste great. But that’s neither here nor there. When she did put the beans in, she graciously didn’t add as many as she probably would’ve liked to, and I thanked her for that. 

I have to admit that these stuffed peppers looked and smelled good, so I was kind of excited to try them. When they came out of the oven, we popped them onto plates and dug in. The first bite I took had two black beans visible on the spoon staring right at me as if daring me to eat them. Kristi looked over and didn’t see the beans at first and she commented on how my first bite didn’t even have any beans. I showed her the beans, then accepted the challenge and plunged the fork into my mouth, beans and all. I am happy to report that I liked it. I didn’t taste the beans, which is good. Also, I didn’t bite directly into any of the pasty nuggets, so the texture didn’t affect my enjoyment. 

I ate the whole thing and thought I would be hungry in about an hour because it was a vegetarian dish. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. So, now Kristi has a new dish she can make when she has a bean craving or we want to save some money and not eat meat one night. I’m sure there will be other things I try in the coming weeks but I’m keeping an open mind and trying them out of love for my wonderful wife.

Her Side

There are two things you should probably know about Nolan and me. I’m not the world’s best cook and Nolan hates beans. Now, when I speak of my cooking abilities, I don’t mean that I can’t cook… I just mean that I cook the same four or five recipes over and over because I know they are good and I do a decent job with them. When I speak of Nolan’s hatred of beans that is no understatement. He really doesn’t like them. In fact, he has been known to pick around them in a meal, gag while attempting to eat them, and of course he makes that face that seems to say “why are you trying to hurt me by putting these beans in perfectly fine food?”

In a Pinterest fueled moment, I pinned a plethora of healthy meals that didn’t involve meat. I sat on these recipes for a few days before bringing up the idea of going a week without eating meat to Nolan. Please don’t mistake my attempt at going meatless for a week as a weak attempt at pushing us into a vegetarian-ish lifestyle… that’s simply not the case. I like meat too much. The idea came to me because meat is so stinking expensive. We have a strict grocery budget each month and it seems as if we (more often than I’d like to admit) end up going the tiniest bit over. In an effort to rein that in a little, I wanted to explore the idea of meatless recipes and convince Nolan that you can have a fulfilling and delicious meal without one ounce of meat involved. Just as I suspected, Nolan retorted with a simple, “I’m a man… I need meat to survive.” We volleyed back and forth on this idea and, naturally, I came out the winner.

So, that brings me to the newest dish that I’ve added to my repertoire. Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers. YUM! I told Nolan all of the ingredients (which sounded like a great combo) and ended the list with a whisper of “…and beans,” hoping he would somehow miss that tiny addition. He didn’t and I received a little hesitation. Nolan graciously agreed to try out this recipe with me and even promised not to complain (too much) about the addition of beans. Nolan stood by my side as I prepared the meal and, when it came time to add the beans, he requested that I not overload the recipe and I happily obliged. So, without further ado, here it is:


3 cups cooked quinoa (I cooked mine with chicken bouillon cubes and added mushrooms and onions)
1(4oz) can green chiles (I left these out since we didn’t have any)
1 cup corn kernels
½ canned black beans, drained and rinsed           
½ cup petite diced tomatoes
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves (again, we didn’t have any so I left it out)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6 Bell Peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded

**We didn’t use the quantities listed here as I didn’t want an overabundance of a meal I wasn’t sure we would like… basically we eyeballed everything**


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheeses, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper.

Spoon the filling into each bell pepper cavity. Place in a baking dish, filling side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes. (I ended up cranking up the heat and leaving them in a bit longer)

Serve immediately.

Even though we didn’t follow the recipe to a tee, it smelled absolutely delicious and I couldn’t wait to dig in. Once we sat down to eat, I awaited Nolan’s response as to how it tasted. Yes, I creepily stared at him and watched as he didn’t pick out the beans and ate them along with the filling. I was shocked and probably had a weird grin creep up on my face. I don’t know if I could go as far as saying he loved it, but he definitely would eat it again (at least that’s what he told me).

I am so excited that I’ve found a meal that is something new and different and something that Nolan enjoyed. So, to all you picky eaters out there:  if Nolan can do it, you can, too. You never know what you’ll like until try it!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reading and Watching...

The Facts

We saw Gone Girl. Kristi had read the book. Nolan hadn’t.

His Side

I don’t read much. I know, as a writer, I should probably read more than I do; however, I want to write movies, so it’s a little different. Still, though, I probably should read more and I might start with reading “Gone Girl”. Kristi read the book and told me it’s very good. And, more importantly, the movie is fantastic.

I’ve only read the book AND seen the movie for a handful of things. I think the only ones are “Holes,” “Great Expectations,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Grapes of Wrath”, and “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Each of these were books I was required to read for school and most of them are older movies. So it’s not a great sampling to decide if I like comparing books and the movies that they turn into. I hear, though, that reading a book first is a bad plan because the movie never lives up to the book. I feel the opposite. In each of the instances listed above, I liked the movie better except “All Quiet on the Western Front.” That’s partially because that movie was one of the first movies with sound… yea… but it did win best picture… in 1930. I actually did enjoy the book, though.

As a movie lover, I actually prefer exploring a different kind of adaptation. Book to movie is fine and dandy, but I enjoy watching a foreign film then the American remake. Or an older film and it’s more recent remake. That, to me, is a more interesting look at a film’s relation to its source material but that is coming from a guy who loves movies. 

But, to get back on topic, I enjoyed Gone Girl immensely. You can read my full review on my site, but to sum it up:  it’s a tightly wound thriller crafted by the deft hand of a director at the top of his game and will keep you guessing until the bitter end. And it certainly is bitter. I also like that it explores the marriage relationship. So many movies these days are just empty entertainment (which I have no problem with) but exploring social issues give a deeper movie-going experience and makes a movie more satisfying. Also, I have to say that I really did like Tyler Perry in this movie. I never thought I would say that, but I did. He was great. 

Gone Girl is one of my favorite movies I have seen in theaters in a while. And getting to go with Kristi is certainly something that makes the experience even better. It’s not every day that she looks forward to seeing a movie that I am excited to see, so I have to capitalize on those opportunities. We did and we both enjoyed the experience. So maybe, just maybe she will be more likely to go more often with me. Fingers crossed!

Her Side

It should come as no surprise when I say that I’m not a huge fan of movies, but more specifically of going to the movie theater. The whole experience is one that I’d be perfectly fine doing without, BUT there are just some things I do for the sake of making Nolan happy… and seeing the occasional movie in the theater is one of them. Lucky for him, this particular movie is one that I actually had a decent amount of interest in seeing. What makes this particular movie any different from the rest? Easy. I read the book. I love reading, and when a co-worker told me about “Gone Girl,” I was intrigued by the premise so I decided to give it a shot.

I hadn’t sat down to read a book in a while even though it’s something I love to do; so I was very excited to start a book that very much seemed like it was up my alley. I began the book and was honestly disappointed at first. It goes back and forth between the two main characters’ points of view and the female main character’s sections were less than thrilling to me. I was finding myself bored and wondering if the book would ever pick up. After all, I knew my coworker would not lie to me about it being a book you literally wouldn’t want to put down… would she?

Thankfully, it definitely picked up and I didn’t want to put it down. I easily could have finished the book in a day or two, but Fletcher didn’t like that plan. Every time I would pick up the book he tried to eat it or steal my attention away. Since he can be pretty persuasive (borderline annoying) with his tactics, he won every time. Normally my speed of reading a book is not an issue, except I expressed interest in seeing the movie and wanted to finish the book FIRST… and Nolan was waiting anxiously for us to see it in theaters. So, I finally finished it and was quite pleased. Was it a dark story? Yep, but it had me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book wondering what would happen next. I can normally guess the general way a book will progress, but I was WAY WRONG with this one… my guesser was off!

Normally movies based on books disappoint the avid reader. The director is at liberty to interpret the book in their own way which is ridiculous considering it’s based on a BOOK, but you can’t tell a director that. So, when I heard that it was pretty spot on with the book’s storyline, I was even more excited. Nolan and I planned a matinee movie date (matinee because we are CHEAP even though it’s still ridiculously expensive to see a movie during the day). We stuffed my purse full of candy and soda for the movie, again because we are too cheap to buy that five dollar drink that contains so much beverage it is practically impossible to drink the entire thing without taking a zillion trips to the restroom (which is crazy since you can’t pause the movie you just paid an arm and a leg to see). Once inside, we got comfy in our seats and waited for the previews to begin.

The movie finally began and I was so excited to see Nolan’s reaction to the movie. I was pleasantly surprised that the movie did indeed follow the book to a tee. I, however, was disappointed with how some of the scenes were delivered. I thought a few scenes should have been more dramatic and shocking (as they were in the book) so that was a slight disappointment for me. My main complaint was the choice for the female lead role in the movie. I don’t know what I didn’t like about her, but she wasn’t exactly what I envisioned for the role. But, if that’s my only complaint, I’d say that’s okay!

In the end, I think this movie was great. I would highly suggest seeing it whether you have read the book or not! It gets two thumbs up in my book… and that’s gotta say something!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Artists for a Night...

The Facts

We painted Fletcher… well, pictures of Fletcher.

His Side

I consider myself an artist. But, I am an artist with words, not pencil or crayons or markers or paint. With that being said, I do enjoy a good challenge and am always willing to try new things. So, when Kristi suggested we do this wine and design thing, I thought it would be fun. It’s different than our usual date nights and there is an instructor walking you through the painting process, so how hard can it be? I realized just how hard it can be.

First of all, we wanted to go on a “paint your pet” night because Fletcher is the cutest puppy in the world and the other, regular options for classes weren’t great. After a bunch of phone calls and asking around, Kristi was able to get us in to the paint your pet class even though it was a few days after our Groupon expired and it cost a little bit more than a regular class. Not only does it cost more than a regular class but it is longer and, I found out, much more difficult.

It seemed easy when I first arrived. We had sent in the pictures of our adorable little guy that we wanted to paint. Then, they blew them up in black and white on the canvas we would paint. So, we were painting over the picture itself. Sounds easy, right? Not really. The instructor had us start with the eyes and nose. Those were easy. I rocked those parts. Then, however, we had to do the rest of the pup… and fur is really hard to get right. Then there’s the whole thing of mixing paint to make the proper colors. The instructor would help mix a good color but she would only mix a tiny bit of it. Once I ran out of that, I was on my own to mix a color that looked similar. It turns out I wasn’t too great at that. Then, of course, there’s the aspect of blending colors and doing highlights and layers of color… all very foreign concepts to me. Even with the instructor’s help, I wasn’t able to really get the picture (pun intended).

My picture looks interesting. I actually like how it turned out even though the skill level is clearly not the greatest. I say it has a certain amateurish charm to it. It didn’t help that I was next to Kristi who knocked it out of the park. She was, hands down, the best in the class. Her painting looks just like the picture she was basing it on. I was thoroughly impressed. I mean, I knew she could paint because she has made stuff to decorate our house and to give to people for gifts, but it’s never been an actual animal. She’s very good and I’m happy to have her picture hung up in our house. And, I’m just appreciative that she’s willing to hang mine up, too!

It was a fun experience for sure; I just wish I was better at it. And I’m pretty sure this class was way harder than most of the classes in which everyone is painting the same thing. It’s a tough place to start my career as a painter and it may be where that career ends. I guess I’ll keep my day job and stick to writing.

Her Side

This is all about a date night that Nolan and I just had. Our date nights are normally spent at home, at a restaurant, or at a movie theater… we apparently lack variety in that aspect of our lives. So, a few months back, I found what I thought to be the perfect outing for Nolan and me (at least in my mind). I was perusing my e-mail that is filled to the brim with subscription based propaganda… I’ll admit I really need to click “unsubscribe” so as not to tempt myself to make impromptu (and unneeded) purchases. Unfortunately, I’m a sucker for Living Social and Groupon. This is NOT because I actually need anything from them, but because they suck me in with the promise of saving money!

Earlier this year I went to a Wine and Design class with my coworkers and it was a blast. So, when I saw a Living Social deal for the same thing, I knew that Nolan and I just had to go! I ran the idea by Nolan and the deal was purchased a few moments later. After going back and forth about what class to attend and after some back and forth dealings with the folks at Wine and Design, we settled on a class entitled “Paint Your Pet.”  I know what you’re thinking:  “How cruel! Why would they want to paint their pet?!” To put your mind at ease, we didn’t paint Fletcher, but rather a picture of Fletcher.

Nolan chose a picture of Fletcher from right after we got him and I chose one from a photo shoot I made Nolan do a few weeks ago for the purpose of having a “glamour shot” of Fletcher for me to paint.

Neither of us really knew what to expect going into this class. I had more of an idea since I’d gone to a similar class before, but I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to instruct us on painting our own pets since most classes focus on one painting that an instructor paints alongside the class… a very different scenario than what we were embarking on.

I was surprised to find that they blew up the photos that we previously e-mailed them of our pets and wrapped the blown up photo around a canvas. I’ll admit that I thought to myself that they had done the hard work for us and of course everyone’s photo would turn out looking great since we didn’t really have to “work” for it. I’ll be the first to admit that my mindset was totally wrong. I’m so thankful that they blew up the pictures because, without that, I’m not sure what Fletcher would have turned out looking like… if I had to guess, I would say an alien.

We had a small class which provided more one on one time with the instructor, making the process so much better. When you have no concept of how a painting is created, it’s easy to get discouraged and think that your creation is going to look nothing like the picture right in front of you. So, we had to put a lot of faith in the instructor and she had to have a decent amount of patience with her skeptical students! The air was full of comments like “this doesn’t look like my dog” and “this doesn’t look like fur at all.” Even though there were only four of us in the class, we were a lively bunch and that definitely added to the experience.

At the end of the night, we had spent nearly three and a half hours obsessing over our paintings and perfecting them to our liking. Each one turned out very different from one another, but perfect for the person who painted it. While I can only speak for myself, I’d bet that Nolan had just as great of a time as I did. We got to spend time together being creative (something we both enjoy, albeit in different capacities) and we ended the night with some wonderful artwork that has already found a place in our home!

Sometimes spending time together just needs to include something outside of the norm. I got to see an artsy and creative side of Nolan that doesn’t often come out. And while I know that doing crafts will never really be his thing, the fact that he jumped in feet first to this experience (and didn’t complain once) means a lot!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Never Baked, Always Delicious...

The Facts

Kristi made “no bake” cookies.

His Side

My first ever job was in high school. I was a bakery clerk at a Lowes Foods in Fort Mill, SC. Despite working professionally in a bakery, I did not learn how to bake. Luckily you don’t have to know how to bake to make some delicious treats. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of “no bake” cookies, but they are awesome and, as their name implies, you don’t have to bake them. The other important thing to know about these cookies is that my wife makes them and she makes them very well.

I came home from work one day and noticed a bunch of rows of cookies sitting out on the counters in our kitchen to cool. I had known she was going to make them because we bought all the stuff at the grocery store a few days prior. What I didn’t know, though, was that she was going to double the recipe. It was A LOT of cookies but I’m okay with that. And so are the people with whom we have shared them.

Now we have our freezer full of no bake cookies so, if we get a craving for something sweet, we can pull out a couple and munch. Hopefully they last us a while but, if they don’t, we’ll just have to make some more! 

Her Side

I have an undeniable sweet tooth. Anyone who knows me knows this fact. It should also be noted that my sweet tooth is pretty specific… it ALWAYS wants chocolate. Nolan and I have been trying to eat a little bit better recently and, in line with that effort, we have tried to keep sweets out of the house. Unfortunately, this plan doesn’t usually work in the long term. We do well for about a week, and then I go crazy. “I. Want. Chocolate”… says my sweet tooth. So, I come up with some excuse for needing to go to the grocery store and then manage to swing by an aisle carrying some type of chocolate. I’m not picky, well, as long as it’s not dark chocolate (that’s just nasty).

Recently, in an effort to watch my waist line and be mindful of our budget, I decided that making some sweets and keeping them in the freezer would be a good compromise. That way, if I do get a hankering for something sweet, I don’t have to run to the store and inevitably spend way more than is necessary (and let’s be honest… if it’s a trip for chocolate, none of it is necessary). Also, when making cookies, there is only a finite amount and if they are good enough (and trust me, these are) I would be more inclined to make them last and think twice about stuffing my face with them just because they are there.

I grew up on these cookies; they were a favorite of my dad’s. I also just discovered that my father-in-law loves these cookies… I knew there was a reason I liked him! (haha) Taste them and you will see what the hype is all about. I’m not great at cooking or baking, so a recipe that doesn’t require me to bake and watch for that perfect golden brown top to appear is pretty amazing. Seriously, try these bad boys out… they will not disappoint.

This is how you make them...

½ cup cocoa
½ cup milk
½ stick margarine
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup peanut butter
3 cups quick oatmeal

Combine the first 4 ingredients in saucepan. 
Bring to a boil over low heat. 
Boil for 1 minute.  
Remove from heat.  
Stir in remaining ingredients.  
Drop onto wax paper.  
Let cool then ENJOY!

It yields approximately 2 dozen. 

Let us know what you think of this recipe! We are certain you will love them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fletcher's Traumatic Loss...

The Facts

Fletcher got neutered.

His Side

Bob Barker may not host “The Price Is Right” anymore, but his effect on our society is still felt every time someone gets their pet spayed or neutered. I never understood why he always encouraged us to do that at the end of each episode until I realized how many animals are without loving homes. We were also required to get Fletcher neutered in accordance with our adoption agreement. I’m not sure what they would do if we didn’t but I didn’t intend to find out. 

The poor guy lost part of his manhood and I thought he would be depressed after such a traumatic loss. It turns out that he isn’t. Over a month later, he is the same hyper, sometimes annoying, fun-loving, needy, but cute-as-a-button pup that he was before he was neutered. Even right after the surgery, he wanted to run around and play. We received strict instructions to not let him jump up on stuff or run around too much in an effort to keep his stitches in place while his incision healed. He made it very difficult to obey those instructions. 

He did, however, have to wear the “cone of shame” as it’s called. Well, we put one on him and he promptly figured out how to get out of it. So we tried this inflatable neck thing that helped keep him from licking. It looked more tolerable on him but he didn’t ever tell me which one he liked better. It stayed on him (except for this one time… he’s stubborn), and his incision healed perfectly. He did, somehow, get his stitches out before his follow-up appointment when the vet was going to take them out. It was okay, though, because he was just fine. At his follow-up visit, they took him to the back for about two minutes and brought him back out. They told us “he looks great, and everyone loves him back there!” He must really put on the charm for them!

The other thing to note is that we got some pain pills to give him to help with the pain he may experience during healing. The vet told us that they may make him tired, which I would have been cool with. Despite him acting like he had no pain, we gave him the pills because the vet suggested it. They didn’t make him tired. Not at all. All they did was make him use the bathroom a lot… the smelly kind. And it was more smelly than usual on this medicine. Like, remarkably smelly. He had never really had an issue with waking up in the middle of the night until this medicine. And he was waking up to go to the bathroom. When we told the vet this, they said he may be having a slight reaction to the medicine and, if he seemed okay, we could take him off the medicine. Oh, if only we had known this three days before! 

It comes as no surprise to me that Fletcher acts the same now as he did before his surgery but one thing does surprise me… he still humps stuff. He has his favorite towel that we allow him to do with as he pleases and he certainly still does as he pleases with it. I guess I figured that kind of behavior would cease once he was “snipped” but I guess not. His energetic behavior, biting, and scratching must not have had anything to do with his manhood and have everything to do with him being a puppy. Hopefully he will calm down a little as he gets older but, if not, we will love him all the same!

Her Side

So, our little puppy has grown up so fast. We knew the day would come, but we didn’t think much about it. Yep, he had to get neutered. Even if the shelter from which we adopted him didn’t require such an action to be taken, I assure you we would have done this of our own accord. We scheduled his surgery a month in advance and by the end of that month we were more than ready to take his “manhood” away from him, after all, some his actions were becoming a bit graphic. We dealt with his mannerisms by telling ourselves that once he was neutered he would be a changed dog. It’s the little bit of hope we had left to cling to.

Fletcher had to be at the vet bright and early on the morning of his surgery, so we both got up and took him. We were told he wouldn’t be able to go home until that evening, so that they could monitor him after being put under anesthesia. I nervously awaited and finally received the call from his vet that the surgery went well and he was waking up nicely. She mentioned that he might be groggy and may not act like himself for at least a day (something I was, honestly, completely okay with). Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not what happened at all. I picked him up and he literally acted like he had nothing done to him at all. He wanted to jump up and down and run around and play. I tried to discourage his behavior, but there is only so much you can do to keep a dog calm and still… and none of my tactics seemed to work.

As a result of his surgery, Fletcher was bound to the cone of shame. I felt like a horrible pet parent for making him wear it because he looked absolutely pitiful with it on and I can’t imagine it would be very comfortable. Nonetheless, I wasn’t about to have him pop out stitches and have to go back in for another surgery. So, we stuck with it. I’m pretty sure that Fletcher was trying to get back at us for making him have this surgery done because he began to wake up in the middle of the night… at 1:00, then 3:00 and then 5:00. Each time we tried to make sure he wasn’t in pain, and he wasn’t… he just wanted to play. How can such a small puppy be such a big jerk?

Well, we followed the vet’s orders of keeping him in the cone of shame until we noticed that he had somehow removed both of his stitches. Thankfully he was completely healed at this point, so we didn’t have any trips back to the vet to fix anything.

Now, I don’t know if we had just been misinformed all of our lives about what neutering does to a dog… temperamentally speaking (we know what the physical manifestations of it are), but what ensued after he completely healed is not at all what we thought it would be. We thought Fletcher would calm down a bit and not be so graphic with some of his mannerisms. We thought that his energy level might mellow out just a tad. We thought that he might somehow be less naughty and realize that he isn’t allowed to do certain things (well this one is more out of wishful thinking). NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. He is just as hyper as he was before and he absolutely does not act like we had him neutered.

So, now that we have let the reality of the situation sink in; that our dog is un-phased by his surgery and that he’s destined to be a hyper puppy for at least another year, we are slowly trying to figure out how to deal with him. There are still days that I would like to give him a doggy chill pill (I’m only halfway joking about this) and we are now awaiting the day that he grows out of his “puppy” stage… if that ever actually happens.

Turns out we might have chosen the most hyperactive dog to call our own but we love him despite his hyperactivity. Some days it’s harder than others, especially when he destroys something that is near and dear to your heart, but at the end of the day he is ours… and that is something I wouldn’t dream of changing.