A Little Bit Closer

Originally posted on Oh No She Diiint:

Meet Alex:

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My new breakfast and current partner-in-crime. He doesn’t want his face to be shown because he thinks it objectifies his delicious body. I just want to show everyone what I had for breakfast…

Now meet me: clearly the fatal attempt of the pretty girl straddle isn’t working and my new lover should be more than slightly embarrassed for me… and him.

My lover is probably the flossiest person I have ever dated. He’s got better hair than I do, perfect teeth, rubs my feet, and too boot, he’s a top-notch kiteboard slayer, which I totally make sound not so cool, but it’s actually one of the sexiest sports to see live. Especially when you get to take them home after and warm them up… Anyway, he’s pretty awesome and I’ll stop with my gushy love-bird mess because it is making me want to vomit, which we will get…

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The Holy Grail of Knitting Patterns

I learned to knit when I put my children through Waldorf school. My poor son hated knitting and would offer to trade me chores for my knitting his flute bag. I loved it. He did not understand.

I decided the first year that I’d learned to knit fairly well that I’d make them stuffed animals. I bought an adorable pattern on Ravelry, ordered beautiful yarn for each of them and sat down to whip them right out.

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Holy hannah… they were made with tiny needles and there were stitches I’d never seen and didn’t make sense to read. I got the first half done and ended up with a blue trunk/head object that looked like blue fuzzy scrotum. Ugh.

I’d already fantasized about  a darling matching set of hand-knit Elijah elephants dangling out of stockings on Christmas eve/morning. I knew I didn’t have time to spend the time getting them done by the holiday, so I started to search for someone that could make them. I Googled “knit animals, knit toys and knit for children… and found the most amazing and inspirational woman.

Julie Williams, of Little Cotton Rabbits.

Her blog popped up and I fell in love with her little English garden. I grew to admire her as I read about her knitting peacefully with her Autistic son. I loved how she spoke about her daughter. Most of all?

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I wanted one of her little animals so badly I was considering bribing someone who won to let me buy theirs. Julie was a mother and woman first and the demand for her beautiful creations far exceeded how many she could produce. People stole her ideas left and right and still, and whilst defending herself; she did the best she could to knit as many as possible. People began to complain the sales were rigged and whined that they were being intentionally denied an opportunity to have a coveted Little Cotton Rabbit. She would list them randomly and it was the basically the luck of who got there… but there did seem to be people who sat and did nothing but hit the refresh button in anticipation of her listing one for sale. I remember reading a comment from a woman that had three of them. I was instantly bitter and could not believe she would continue snatching the treasures up while some of us didn’t even have ONE yet! I realized I was obsessed.

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I was never lucky enough to win the opportunity to buy one.

She finally had to resort to using a random number generator to choose who got to the chance to buy one. I gave up.  She’s been the first link in my computer for years.

My ex got married a few years ago and my daughter was nervous about her first trip on an airplane without me. She was clingy weepy about it and I wanted to send something small and made with love to comfort her in my absence. I sat down with my needles and copied the bunny I coveted, to the best of my ability. It was absolute hell, but Bailey the Bunny was exactly what my baby girl needed to feel safe. I sprayed her tummy with my perfume and wrapped her in her suitcase. She loved her and I swore I’d never make another one…. until my favorite Aunt had a baby girl. I used the beloved Alpaca yarn I’d had stashed for a special project, and Vera the bunny was sent off with great love.

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I’ve tweaked my pattern over the years, but I always felt a little… wrong about the whole thing.

I’d absolutely copied her pattern as best I could- and it wasn’t to cheat her or avoid paying for something. I couldn’t buy one…. and she didn’t sell the pattern.

Bailey and Vera were gifts of great love and SO hard to knit… but more than that- I’d loved those cotton bunnies for so many years and wanted my little girls to have one.

Along those lines, I’m making all of my Christmas gifts this year and I’m determined to knit something for everyone. I would love to knit everyone something special, though I can’t imagine being able to pull it off this year.  I tucked a sleepy baby in my bathrobe and sat down with my tea this morning to look at patterns on Ravelry. I clicked on the Little Cotton Rabbits page and nearly fell off of my chair.

You can buy the bunny pattern.

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You can buy the dress pattern.

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There is a Santa Claus.

I bought them immediately and opened directly to the foot, which is knitting purgatory. Baby Quinn’s bunny still only has one leg. I read the instructions and nearly cried. It’s so perfectly neat and beautifully simple. Just like everything I’ve seen about Julie.

I’m both honored and excited to share this link. Go buy this pattern and fill the lives of the little ones you love…

With REAL Little Cotton Rabbits.

I’m still so excited I feel like Santa came early… and seeing the little foxes lets me know that someday… if I’m patient and wait my turn…

She’s going to sell the elephant pattern too.

I’m beside myself with geeky knitter joy that I can actually make my babylove a REAL rabbit, just like the beautiful creations Julie’s made that have evaded capture.

Now I can give my darling knitter friend S the link to the REAL pattern… because I still can’t find one of the 5 post-it notes I wrote my borrowed pattern on.

I’m so incredibly happy to be able to support such a wonderful woman. I have 2 bunnies already started and I’m happiest most of all that two of them will be dangling out of stockings this year!!!

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Fresh Butternutty Goodness

I love love love seeing 10 hits on my blog. I feel like celebrating.

Gone are those 1000+ days. Amen.

I deleted all the baggage and cut all my ties.

I’ve been watching Hoarders lately and felt the same way about my blog. It had piles of shit I didn’t like, recognize or want anymore. It was so infested with douche bags and liars that the clean up would have been exhausting and endless- so instead I just burnt the whole fucker down- like most of the people on that show should do with their houses!

:) Ahhh. Peace. Clean sheets, new socks and your favorite sweatpants, sort of cozy freshness.

I’d documented my midlife crisis and sad attempts at having faith in the worst of humanity and took the last, very necessary response… and threw it all into the fire.

When you don’t like the view in the rear-view mirror anymore, you need a change of scenery and a fresh perspective.

Now I don’t mind writing anymore, though I may bore everyone to death with recipes, teething woes and too much gardening…

but at the very least… you’ll get to eat great food because I’m a domestic whirlwind these days. Behold! The perfect butternut squash soup, in my not-so-humble opinion… to celebrate this nice clean house.

My Better Butternut soup

8 cups good chicken stock. I make mine- you can do the same easily or buy it pre-made. Buy the organic one, really… because commercial chickens are perhaps the least respected meat raised and you should do your part to stop it. Even if your part is lazy- it counts. Ish.

1/2 c. Butter

2 c. Shallots. They’re the Filet Mignon of onions- trust me- spend the extra $.

3 cloves Garlic, minced, and while you’re at it- plant some! Garlic goes in to the ground this week and it’s so delicious home grown!

3.5-4 lb Butternut squash. Peel, seed and chop it into cubes. It’s a smooth textured winter squash and its glorious if you’re type A like me and want to see perfect orange cubes in a big white bowl.

2 c. Pumpkin puree. Finally something to make with all those pumpkins from the garden or in a can from the store- it all tastes the same.

1 c. Half & half

Just typing this recipe up makes me want to go make some more, and I just finished the batch I made this week for breakfast this morning.

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Dice your shallots and garlic while the butter melts in your stock pot. Let them soften over low-medium heat until they’re translucent. Add your chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add your butternut squash cubes and pumpkin puree.  Simmer until the cubes of squash are soft and use your stick blender (don’t tell me you don’t have one. Go buy one!) until roughly half the cubes of butternut squash are blended. It will be a creamy lumpy texture and smell like heaven. Salt & pepper to taste.

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Add your half & half and stir, stir, stir. I usually make some naan or croutons to go along with it, but it’s good all by itself too. Enjoy a fresh & happy fall!

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Salsa for Canning Recipe

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This is absolutely my favorite recipe and it’s taken a decade to perfect. Enjoy!

Heirloom Salsa

10 c chopped tomatoes

5 c bell peppers

5 c onions

2 1/2 c peppers. (Be sure to remove the seeds if you want to keep your salsa mild!)

1 1/4 c lime juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

3 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 can of tomato paste (optional)

This is so easy and so ridiculously time consuming… but worth every minute spent until you’re placing the jars in your pantry! Throw all your ingredients in a stock pot and let simmer on low until the flavors are combined and your salsa has thickened to your liking. Fill sterilized canning jars, adjust lids and process in a hot water bath canner. 20 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for salsa

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I can’t recommend highly enough to mix and match your flavors. I made a batch of Brandywine tomato & habanero pepper salsa this week that is amazing, and my Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato & jalapeno mild salsa is equally as delicious. You can tailor this recipe to fit your heat preference and favorite flavors. Be sure to remember that salsa continues to get hotter after canned if you leave the seeds in the peppers!

Happy dipping!

And then there was Quinn.

I watched my due date come and go. It really didn’t matter that I was due on my birthday because I wanted a baby more than anything. Cake was nice… but I’d have given a limb for some bone crushing contractions and a shared birthday.

It wasn’t to be… and the 5th came and went with a nice dinner on my parent’s houseboat on the lake, a pretty sunset and my best friend and lovely Little Red.

I sunk into my overdue status with exasperation. Still perfectly healthy but frustrated by my inability to do as much as I wanted to get done in the garden and battling devastating heartburn. The 6th ticked by without so much as a contraction. The 7th was equally uneventful. I had to relinquish my darling daughter to her dad the afternoon of the 8th and I watched her get out of the car and walk up to the house with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat. I’d gotten to the point that I was feeling awfully lonely waiting impatiently for the baby on my own. I blew her a kiss and wiped my tears… and drove home to resign myself to be the first woman to be pregnant forever.

6:00 PM

My dear Miss Classy, my best friend in the world stopped by on her way home from work after I sent her a “I’M SO BORED” text whining about my eternal gestation and inability to weed the carrots. She hugged me, assured me I would not be pregnant forever and she would indeed come out eventually. We laughed and I realized I was having contractions. They were insignificant, but noticeable. It’d been 13 years since I’d felt one, but I noticed the rhythmic tightening. I laughed and mentioned them offhandedly. She went home to make dinner and relax. I went out to weed the dreaded carrots after a dose of Zantac.

I got three feet into the carrot patch when the mosquitos began feasting on me. I realized after I started to truly get pissed off about the mosquitos, that I was having more contractions. I smiled widely and struggled to keep going. After another 2 feet… I gave up and came inside. I fired up the fancy pink iPhone contraction timer my Little Red had loaded on my phone and started timing them.

Twelve minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute. Easy… not painful… and I had some things to get done if it was an indication that the baby might come that night.

8:30 PM

I called Miss Classy.

J- I think I’m in labor. I know I’ve said it forever, but I think tonight’s the night. Seriously. Don’t panic.

MC- I’m not panicking. Do you want me to come now?

J- Nooooo. I’m going to mop and maybe go back out to weed the carrots some more. I need to bleach the sinks again and I’d really love to shave my legs.

MC- Ok, well call me and keep me updated. I love you. Hooray!!!

I got off the phone and turned the music on to dance with my unborn baby girl one more time. The dogs barked excitedly. The cat meowed at me for more cat food. I decided to take a shower.

I called the midwife first.

J- I’m in labor!!! I’m the happiest person in pain, ever!

M- Should I come check you?

J- No, I’m going to mop and make something to eat, I’ll call you when it gets intense.

M- Hooray! We are so excited! We’ve been looking forward to this birth so much! I’ll call the other midwife!

J- No rush, I’m just enjoying it finally being the day!

I hung up and texted to see if my Little Red could come on over.

J- I think it’s the night… can LR come over soon?

X- Sure! They just went to the store, is 45 minutes ok?

J- Absolutely! See you soon!

I called my mama.

J- I’m in labor!!!!

M- OH! I’ll come now!

J- No I’m fine, I’m just excited! I’ll call you when it gets serious. Love you!

M- I love you baby. Congratulations!

As much as I try to deny it…I’m a closet high maintenance girl. I shave… everything. Now that said, there are certain things that are more difficult during pregnancy and shaving is at the top of that list. So I took my time, got a new blade out and shaved. I put my favorite lotion on. Slipped into my favorite clothes and smiled at every contraction… now coming every 5 minutes according to the fancy timer.

9:30 PM

I decided to change my sheets, and was too out of breath. I was hot and my back hurt. I called my dear Miss Classy.
As soon as I heard her voice I started to cry.

J- I think I need you.

MC- I’m on my way. I’ll be there soon.

I called my mom next.

J- Mommy.

M- I’m turning the water off and getting out of my garden clothes. I’ll be there in 10 minutes.

J- I don’t think I can do this.

M- Don’t be silly, of course you can. I love you. I’ll see you soon.

I sent a text to my ex-hubby.

J- Coming soon?

and they arrived in minutes.

I called the midwife.

J- Hi… I don’t know if I’m being wimpy or if I just forgot after 13 years… but this is worse than I remember it and I think you should come check me. I’m sorry if it’s a false alarm.

MW- I’ll come right now. Don’t apologize, I’m happy to see you. Are you out of breath?

J- … … …

MW- Are you having a contraction?

J- Mmmhmmm.

In three minutes, she was walking up to my front door, little midwife bag in hand. I was overjoyed to see her. She was smiling and looked happy and serene.

I was hit by a contraction as soon as she stepped inside the door and I leaned against the edge of my bed and counted backwards from 70. Not sure why… but anything to focus and relax. I smiled at her and she looked a little more concerned. She checked my blood pressure, my pulse and baby Quinn’s heart rate. Then she actually checked me and I saw the surprise flash across her face.

MW- Oh. Honey. You’re already dilated to an 8… closer to an 8 1/2. You don’t have time to fill the birth tub.

J- I’m having her in the bath tub then.

I didn’t wait for an answer, just walked to my sparkling bleach-y clean bathroom and started the water. Another monster contraction, and I saw my Little Red walk in, smiling proudly. I knew in my heart of hearts that the most important thing in my life was to show this young lady love of mine that birth is natural, that women can handle pain effectively, and that birth can be peaceful and on your own terms. She sat down on the toilet seat and I sunk into the water, giggling.

J- Are you worried? Are you afraid? Is it too much? Are you ok?

LR- Don’t be silly. I’m fine. Are you ok? Is it bad? I’m sorry it hurts.

J- It’s the most rewarding pain in the world. I learned that with you and your brother. This pain has the biggest payoff imaginable. I”m sorry if it gets scary. I’m probably going to scream. Hitting a certain tone in your throat helps ease the pain of the contraction. I’m sorry if it scares you.

LR- Mama you can do this and it’s ok if you scream. I would too. I believe in you.

I had another contraction and my dear midwife sat on the edge of the bathtub and checked me, telling me to warn her when I felt pressure… a pressure I was already feeling.

MW- You’re full term so you’re going to be pushing longer than you did before.

J- I pushed for 2 1/2 hours with my son, and 3 times with my daughter.

MW- I’m just preparing you.

And then the vortex opened and sucked me in.

I turned the other way and put my hands on the cool porcelain. I closed my eyes and thought of my dear Grandma Afton, who my baby daughter was going to be named after. She was fearless and feisty. She was the first red haired green eyed woman in my life who told me from infancy that the rules didn’t apply to me. She was the first person to push me to be better than I thought I wanted to be. Waves of excruciating pain tore through me and I forced my hands into relaxed open palms and pictured her sitting next to me, laughing at my doubting myself.

MW- Sink into the water. Breathe. Relax. Believe. You’ve got this.

I heard my grandma laugh.

I squeezed my eyes shut hoping she’d say something to help me survive the impending crash of another contraction.

I heard my dear friend Vera threaten me.

V- Don’t you dare name that baby after me. I hate my name.

I laughed and smiled at my Little Red, who was laughing back at me and shaking her head. The next contraction hit me and my eyes closed again for the last time and I began to push.

I listened only for the voice of my midwife. The woman captain of my lost and tortured ship fighting its way through the biggest storm on record. I heard her guide me. I asked for my dear friend, who put a towel under my head and a cold washcloth on my forehead.

MW- Push right here. Good. Ok, now blow… don’t push… breath… her head is almost out.

J- OUCH OUCH OUCH

MW- Breathe… now push. Now wait. Her head is out, you have to wait for the next contraction.

J- I can’t. I don’t want to have another contraction. I’ll push her out without it.

MW- NO. Wait. Ok, you’re having another one, PUSH.

I felt her leave me. I was momentarily sad. She was like a mermaid in the water and my midwife guided her deftly onto my chest… where I opened my eyes.

10:50 PM

Quinn Vera Afton. 8 lbs 4 ounces, 20″ long

QVA

There she was. My little beauty. All wide eyes and alert with her tiny hand extended and her fingers curling around the center of my sports bra.

I smiled at the beautiful women I’d chosen to support and love me through the hardest battle us women fight, and they were all beaming and cooing at the bubble gum pink newborn resting on my chest under my favorite towels.

Looking up at me with dusky blue newborn eyes and the promise of more love than I ever dared to hope for.

There she was. At last. My baby Quinnie ♥

happybirthdayQNaturally made and delivered, at home ♥

Stupidity Payment

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As the clock ticks down to Baby Q’s arrival, I have a million things left to get planted. I watered for hours yesterday to loosen the soil and today is the big day of mass planting.

However… I made the fatal error of roto-tilling barefoot last week… and destroyed my left baby toe. Everything was going along perfectly… the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was approaching my last pass of the heirloom tomato garden, when I hit a buried plastic pipe, the tiller yanked forward and I stepped right on the pipe I’d just sharpened with the rotating steel blades.

Ya know when something hurts so badly so immediately that you know you’ve really done some damage? Yeah… that’s what it was like.

I flipped the choke on the tiller and stood in shocked silence for a moment, immediately gripped by a stress-contraction. Even little Quinn knew to remind me to go inside, immediately. It takes a lot to make me cry, and I hobbled/waddled over to the outside water faucet to rinse off the dirt and survey the damage. Icy cold water hit like a second stab from the pipe and the water ran red for too long. I knew I was in trouble and I knew I needed to go inside and have my Little Red take a look.

Therein lies the real problem of hurting the bottom of your foot when you’re 9 months pregnant. You can’t even see it to know how bad it is.

I tracked blood across the patio and in through the kitchen, and started to panic a little when I saw how much there still was. I’m days away from delivery and my first concern, as always; is with my children.

Little Red followed me worriedly to the bathroom and had me lift my foot. Her eyes widened and she told me we needed to go to the emergency room. She’s not a kid that worries unnecessarily, so when she says it’s time to go, it’s solid advice. Being the impatient person I am, I wrapped a trash bag around my poor foot and hobbled out to the car. She insisted on calling people, I insisted she get in and buckle up.

Now the funny thing about being so roundly pregnant, is that people MOVE when you walk in to the emergency room. It was the shortest trip I’ve ever had through the ER and the most pleasant as well. They not only move, they take care to make sure you’re resting comfortably and don’t need anything else they never offer you when you are not with child.

I’m not a fan of needles. I don’t like shots at all. I am anti-vaccination…. but I know I’m due a tetanus shot. My darling daughter is raising an eyebrow at me as I negotiate my way out of one until after the baby. I’ve been with my attorney all afternoon and some of his argumentative nature has clearly worn off. My daughter is shaking her head at me while the tiny daughter in my belly kicks happily.

My doc walks in and smiles at me, joining in the head shaking.

D- Flip flops?

J- No… worse. Barefoot.

D- In the dirt?

J- Oh you haven’t lived if you’ve never walked barefoot through the freshly tilled soil… but yeah… perhaps wait until you’re done tilling.

We went through the options and I could see the loophole he was offering.

D- Well you’re really looking at a serious amount of stitches to put all these layers back together. It’s also going to hurt pretty bad for me to numb it.

I see him eye my belly warily and know a window worth climbing through when I see one.

J- It seems to just lie together nicely when you don’t mess with it, couldn’t it just heal on it’s own with a little love and care?

My daughter is wide eyed and her mouth is hanging open.

D- I think it just might. I could glue most of it to hold it while it heals, and you could keep it bandaged, clean and dry and it may heal even better that way.

J- Ohhh…. clean and dry may pose a problem. Could I wrap a bag around it to finish gardening?

D- Actually yes, that’s a great idea! Just make sure to take a lot of breaks and keep it from getting sweaty. It also appears to be broken… so that may slow you down.

I assure him I’ll do my best, the lovely nurse comes in to clean and bandage it, and we are on our way back home in under two hours. I walked in to the house, mopped up the blood, wrapped a bag around my freshly bandaged foot and headed back out to the garden… while my disgruntled teenager followed me, chastising all the way.

The garden got mulched, the beets got watered and I managed to ruin my new bandage in under an hour while my little nurse clucked her disapproval.

Old habits die hard… but at least I’m forced to keep my shoes on these days. The garden is close to being completely planted and despite my ever-growing baby belly- I’ve learned how to reapply the dressing in the last week…

Today: the potatoes get planted, tomorrow the flowers and hopefully in the next two weeks: a tiny baby girl will join us to make our family complete ♥

Hater, please.

The funniest thing about blogging is the hater faction. The people who return daily to get their hate on.

Those are my personal favorite.

The douche bags, the assholes and the bitches. The people who’ve either hurt me in the past and have become deserving targets of a verbal bashing, or those who are frustrated that I truly don’t care about their opinion.

As they say, opinions are like assholes… everyone has one.

One is enough for me thanks.

My life has never been happier, and everything surrounding and within it; reflects it. I have an amazing job working for people I adore, I’m making twice what I was making at my old job, and I no longer have to utter the dreaded phrase…

J- Would you like chips or fries with that?

Thank fucking GAWD too, because it had gotten to the point I wanted to have my tongue cut out before I had to say it again.

I have a garden fence to end all fences, built out of the wood the Dirty Boat Stealing Asshole lost to me in court after he tried to sue me for the rest of the shit he left laying in my yard for a year after I kicked him out. It’s the ultimate act of reclaiming your spirit after a horrible relationship. Finally some small piece of the 7 years I lost in dating him, is giving back. It’s the Fort Knox of garden fences… and I can safely plant anything my heart desires without fear of it being mowed down the second I walk out.  It’s spectacular and electrically charged if I want it to be.

I have the best kids in the world, and a daughter so funny she keeps us all laughing. She’s bloomed in her new school and finally… FINALLY… loves a few subjects and looks forward to a few classes. She’s learned to drive the riding mower like a pro and still leaves me little love notes when I least expect them. She’s a blessing every day, and no amount of a stranger being jealous or hateful can touch the joy she brings to my life.

Superman is simply… super. He mowed for 3-4 hours yesterday. He cleaned up years of random craziness left laying in the yard by the Dirty Boat Thief. He made me a burn MOUNTAIN… because when it’s taller than you, it’s more than a burn pile. I cleaned the house, did dishes and prepared meals for the week while looking out my sunny kitchen window at the first man to mow my lawn, ever. He’d stop momentarily to come in and ask me what else he could do to help. He’s actually looking forward to planting in the garden and he laughs when I tell him he’s crazy. He brought home pizza and rootbeer for my little red, and rubbed my feet while we all watched a movie together. I fought back giggles as I looked at the billion mosquito bites covering his shiny bald head. Poor guy… he got eaten alive while he saved me a solid day of work I don’t even have to give. He did it to help me, with nothing but a pure heart and limitless goodness. He’s the best person to ever come into my life and I appreciate him more than I can express. I turned on “He’s just not that into you” after little red went to bed, and pulled his feet into my lap.

J- You rub my feet every night, give me these, it’s my turn.

S- I’ve never had someone rub my feet before. I had no idea how good that felt.

This man is my male counterpart. He’s bent over backwards his whole life to be the perfect son, the perfect boyfriend and the perfect husband… but he’s never gotten that in return and if it’s one thing I promise myself and him, it’s that I will strive to be that person in his life too. It’s an amazing opportunity to adore someone worth all of my love and dedication. I poured him a drink as he laughed at the honesty of the movie and fell asleep while I rubbed his feet. He smiled at me, all covered in mosquito bites, freshly showered and smelling amazing- this shiny bald man of my dreams…

S- I’ve waited my whole life for you.

That makes two of us, and I welcome the haters, the second guessers and the jealous people who would dare to question him, it or us.

Hate on… it only makes me laugh harder. I sat down this morning to see a fresh new batch of disliked comments on the blogs I’ve written about him, and took the passive aggressive ability for a chicken shit to complain about any of it. If you’re so obsessed you need to blog-stalk me, sack up and put your money where your mouth is or shut it. No more like or dislike button. If you have the balls to complain, have the balls to comment or fuck right off and write your own rant.

Oh… nobody cares? Nobody reads it? Nobody listens because it’s better to read about someone finding the happiness they deserve in spite of the people who’ve done their best to ruin it?

Weird…

:)