Friday, September 30, 2011

10 Facts About Me

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Here's a neat little factoid: I am a huge sucker for memes and surveys.  Always have been, always will be.  I also really like filling out forms (no lie, I got pretty excited when my dermatologist sent me new forms to fill out), so that's probably where it comes from.

Aaaanyway, I've seen this floating around here and here and here, and I'm throwing my hat into the ring.  Without further ado, 10 facts about Caitlin!

1// Many of you probably know this, but I had a tumor in my kidney when I was four.  It was removed and I had six months of chemo.  Apparently the doctors told my grandfather (a doctor himself) that my chances of making it were 50-50, but I've heard that secondhand so I cannot attest to its veracity.  I've had no problems since then with the remaining one!

2// The volume in the car has to land on an even number or a number ending in 5 or 0, which is explained in Fact #3.

3// I have synesthesia, a brain condition in which "stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway." For me this means that I associate personalities to numbers (even numbers usually have nicer personalities, with a few exceptions), people and words have colors, and I picture numbers in a physical location on a number line.  This is why 5s and 0s are so appealing to me, because they are strong ticks on my mental number line.  I also imagine years on a chronological timeline. I also preferred my maiden name because it was a prettier color than my married name (my maiden name is purple, new one is red and yellow). It's something I thought everyone did until I started talking about it. Apparently it's quite common.

4// I have been told that I look like Winona Ryder, Natalie Portman, Tina Fey (a total stranger came up and told me this one), and Mia Farrow.  My husband tells me that I look and act like Liz Lemon and that a lot of her manneurisms remind him of me.

5// I have never been able to drink soda.  The carbonation is physically quite painful for me and usually I can't swallow it until it's gone flat in my mouth. If I try to down it quickly my throat starts to hurt.  Sometimes my sisters make me drink a sip of soda to watch my face.

6// I think I've shared this before, but I drink beverages more like a suckling infant than an adult woman. I get made fun of pretty heavily in my house for this.

7// I love singing in the car.  If I'm in a situation where I can't sing along to the song that's playing (like if I'm with people I don't know well) I get kind of antsy.

8// I get attached to TV shows and movies.  They quickly turn into my version of "comfort food."  Nothing makes me feel "safer" than knowing I can cuddle in a bed and watch 30 Rock or Mystery Science Theater 3000...even if it's in a hotel and even if I don't end up doing it, just knowing I can do it makes me feel safe and happy (escapism what what?).

9// In my junior year of high school a bunch of us were given awards for doing well in particular sections of our state's standardized tests.  One person got an award for Math, another for science, another for English...and mine was for penmanship.  At age 16 I won $25 for having nice penmanship.  For the record my penmanship is pretty nice, but seriously?

10// If I could do any job without worrying about school/money/what have you, I would be a veterinarian.

Now I want to read 10 facts about you lovely people.  If you do this please link up!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

Sorry I'm so late today guys.  I've been working straight from about 7:30 a.m. and my brain is total mush.  But I love creating TILT posts, and you guys are awesome, so here you are. :)

I am not embarassed that this video meme has been entertaining me and making my day a little brighter all week.

Does anyone else love "Flight of the Conchords" as much as I do?

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Check out Amazon.com's original webpage! Hard to believe how far we've come, eh, interwebs?

Check out this fun DIY - orange rind votives.

Try not to smile when you look at this.

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My sister sent me this - how cool are these pumpkins?

If you haven't seen the Honey Badger video, just go do it.  Seriously.  Right now. It's pretty badass.

Make your own glowing firefly jars - super easy DIY!



Sorry, this is shorter than normal but I am definitely not all there.  Hope you are all having an amazing week.

So...This Happened.

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So over the last few days I've been positively aching for a tattoo.  I've never had that feeling before of really wanting to experience it again, watch it heel, etc.  Guys, I even had a dream that I had the word WIDTH tattooed on my arm below my half-sleeve.  It was so real that I actually checked my arm when I woke up, no lie.

I've been wanting a traditional anchor for some time.  It has a pretty strong meaning, but it's one I'd rather keep to myself for now.  Anyway I found this original Sailor Jerry design online and fell in love.  Adam managed to squeeze me in yesterday (it just so happens an appointment I had was cancelled anyway) and this is the final result.  I assume you can see that this is on my tricep but if not, there it is.

Anyway I haven't been totally present on blogs the last few days since I've been immersed in PowerPoint presentations and photo editing.  I'll write a TILT post later today, just wanted to let you all know that I'm alive. And freshly tattooed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Warm Weather, Dead Bugs & Feeling Fulfilled

So I posted yesterday about therapeutic ways to ground yourself and to avoid disengaging from your surroundings.

But if I'm honest, there are some other things that have been helping keep me out of the neverending spiral of fear and anxiety.

1. Going bug-catching with my nerdler husband.  Rob's in a Conservation Bio class and part of his project is to catch and [humanely] kill butterflies, damselflies, and dragonflies to study them.  For those of you who find this cruel, keep in mind that the insects would be dying soon anyway because of frost and feel no pain.

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2. Watching a friend's team kick ass at their rugby game and enjoy inexplicable 80-degree temperatures.
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3. Going on a quiet walk with just my beastie and enjoying the fall.

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These things help me feel grounded and happy.  No matter what is going on outside, I know I always have my adoring husband and my slobbery, but lovely, beastie-pie.  Sorry to get all mushy on you but, what can I say?  I'm a lucky lady.

Also, I might be getting a spontaneous tattoo this week.  NBD.

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Being Grounded

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A few weeks ago I was telling my therapist about this thing I do when I get anxious or upset, or when I'm just sitting around not really thinking of anything in particular. 

It's weird to describe the feeling, but basically my eyes unfocus, my head physically numbs over and I kind of "shut down" for lack of a better term.  I usually start picking my lips (a habit since childhood) when I'm in this state.  When I was a child my mother used to have a joke that "there is a movie going on in Caitlin's head that no one else can see."  For the longest time (well, until a few weeks ago) I always thought that this was what everyone called daydreaming.

My therapist gave me a book about PTSD and trauma and in it I read descriptions of exactly that state that my brain slips into so easily in times of distress.  I mentioned it in a session and she told me that this unfocused, numb state was actually called depersonalization.  I'm sure you don't care to hear me explain it so click that to get the Wikipedia article on it.

We talked about it and agreed that the depersonalized state isn't a good or healthy way for me to deal with stress.  When I zone out, I feel like Rob and I are on two different planets.  I can touch him and talk to him and joke with him, but it's as if a thin transparent wall is sitting between us.

The "treatment" for this state when you're in the thick of it is to engage in a process called grounding.  Essentially grounding refocuses your thinking to the here and now, rather than not thinking at all or only focusing on the source of your emotional pain.  I wanted to share some of these "grounding" techniques because they've already been extremely helpful to me.  I run through some of these when I'm in the throes of an early-morning panic attack or when zoning out has become easier than actually dealing with my feelings, and I thought someone else might be able to find some inspiration.

Quick note: I am not a mental health professional and I'm not saying that these will work for everyone, only that they have helped me when I am feeling extremely depressed or anxious. If you suffer from depression I highly recommend you see a therapist - I'm constantly surprised by how much it's helped me. Everything below came from a handout called Detaching from Emotional Pain (Grounding), from Seeking Safety by Lisa M. Najavits (2002).

Guidelines:

1. Grounding can be done any time, any place, anywhere.
2. Use grounding when you are faced with a trigger, enraged, disassociating, having a substance craving, or when your emotional pain goes above 6 (on a 0-10 scale).  Grounding puts healthy distance between you and these negative feelings.
3. Keep your eyes open scan the room, and turn the light on to stay in touch with the present.
4. Rate your mood before and after grounding, to test whether it worked.  Before grounding, rate your level of emotional pain (0-10).  Then rerate it afterward.
5. No talking about negative feelings or journal writing--you want to distract away from negative feelings, not get in touch with them.
6. Stay neutral: avoid judgements of "good" and "bad." For example, instead of "The walls are blue; I dislike blue because it reminds me of depression," simply say "The walls are blue," and move on.
7. Focus on the present, not the past or future.
8. Note that grounding is not the same of relaxation training.  Grounding is much more active, focuses on distraction strategies, and is intended to help extreme negative feelings.  It is believed to be more effective than relaxation training for PTSD.

Ways of Grounding:

Three major ways of grounding are described below--mental, physical, and soothing.  "Mental" means focusing your mind, "physical" means focusing on your senses, and "soothing" means talking to yourself in a very kind way.  You may find that one type works better for you, or all types may be helpful.

Mental Grounding:

1. Describe your environment in detail, using all of your senses. Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature.
2. Play a "categories" games with yourself. Think of "types of dogs," "jazz musicians," "states that begin with 'A'," "cars," etc.
3. Do an age progression - If you hve regressed to a younger age, you can slowly work your way back up until your current age.
4. Describe an every day activity in great detail, for example, a meal you cook (First peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters, etc.)
5. Imagine - use an image; glide along on skates away from your pain, change the tv channel to a better show, think of a wall as a buffer between you and your pain.
6. Say a safety statement - my name is ___, I am safe right now. I'm in the present, not the past. I am located in __, the date is __
7. Read something, saying each word to yourself, or read each letter backward so you focus on the letters and not the word.
8. Use humor, think of something funny to jolt yourself out of your mood.
9. Count to 10 or say the alphabet very slowly.

Physical Grounding:

1. Run cool or warm water over your hands
2. Grab tightly onto your chair as hard as you can
3. Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch. Is one colder? lighter?
4. Dig your heels into the floor, literally "grounding" them. Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
5. Carry a grounding object in your pocket - a small object that you can touch when you feel triggered
6. Jump up and down
7. Notice your body: the weight of your body in the chair, wiggling your toes in your socks, the feel of your back against the chair. You are connected to the world.
8. Stretch - extend your fingers, arms, or legs as far as you can, roll your head around.
9. Clench and release your fists
10. Walk slowly, noticing each footstep, saying 'left' or 'right with each step
11. Eat something, describing the flavors in detail to yourself
12. Focus on your breathing, noticing each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale, such as a favorite color or a soothing word

Soothing Grounding:

1. Say kind statements, as if you were talking to a small child. For example, "You are a good person going through a hard time. You'll get through this."
2. Think of favorites. Think of your favorite color, animal, season, food, time of day, TV show
3. Picture people you care about (e.g. your children) and look at photographs of them
4. Remember the words to an inspiring song, quotation, or poem that makes you feel better (e.g. the AA Serenity Prayer)
5. Remember a safe place. Describe a place that you find very soothing (the beach or mountains, or favorite room); focus on everything about that places, the sounds, colors, shapes, textures, objects
6. Say a coping statement: I can handle this, this feeling will pass
7. Plan a safe treat for yourself, such as a piece of candy, a nice dinner, or warm bath
8. Think of things you are looking forward to in the next week, perhaps time with a friend, going to a movie, or going on a hike.

What are some of your strategies for dealing with stress?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A New Recipe for your Sunday

So it's the first weekend of fall.  In Maine the foliage, as I mentioned previously, is finally starting to change, which makes me smile because, hey, it's gorgeous.  What's funny is that the temperatures have been crazy warm.  We've actually been walking around in short sleeves and using the air conditioner at night, which is not typical for Maine this time of year.

As I might have implied in my last post, Rob has been getting a little bored with our regular meal repertoire, so we are constantly on the lookout for new recipes.  The other day he was flipping through the channels and came across Giada DeLaurentiis, who he has a huge crush on because she looks like Natalie Portman.  Usually he'll stop and make some innuendo out of what she is saying (this is surprisingly easy to do with kitchen and cooking terms) and move on.  But this time she was talking about gorgonzola and breadcrumb stuffed Roma tomatoes, and we just had to listen so we could add it as a side to one of our meals. 

On Saturday we paired it with a meal we eat pretty frequently (pasta and chicken mixed with basil pesto) and I wanted to share the recipe with you.  The amounts are kind of arbitrary based on how many tomatoes you want, and Giada didn't give them to us.

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Gorgonzola and Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (can also substitute parmesan)
~5 cloves garlic
Roma tomatoes
Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds and pulp.  You can either discard or use them to make tomato sauce.  Place the tomatoes cut-side down on paper towel to drain.

3. In a bowl, mix olive oil and garlic.  Put tomatoes in the mixture and toss to coat.

4. In another bowl mix breadcrumbs and gorgonzola.  Spoon mixture into each tomato half and place on parchment-paper covered baking sheet.

5. Bake tomatoes for 20-25 minutes.

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Do you have any yummy new recipes?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Thankfulness

Welcome to the first weekend of fall!

I've had a bit of a rough week emotionally so I thought I'd make a list of some of the things I'm most thankful for on this cloudy Saturday.

1. The fact that the foliage is finally starting to change.  I took these pictures around our house.  My favorites are the red leaves but most of those around our house are yellow.

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2. Not having to wake up to an alarm.  On mornings where we don't have to wake up at a given time Rob and I usually hang out in bed for an extra 20 minutes or so just talking to each other and dozing.  Most times I'll grab my iPad and read him excerpts from blog posts that make me smile.
 
 
3. Taking a mid-morning nap.  Just because.
 
 
4. Going for a morning walk at the local field so Cypress can take a swim in the river.
 
 
5. Grocery shopping with Rob.  I know it's silly but it's one of my favorite times together.  Sometimes if we're alone in an aisle I'll dance to whatever goofy-ass song or sashay like I'm on a catwalk.  Makes me smile. Plus we went so that we could make a new recipe, which I'll be sharing tomorrow!
 
 
6. Watching Rob play "slobber ball" with Cypress in the yard.  Basically he throws the ball, she catches it, he hunts her down and gets it back to throw it again.  He also chased her around with a dead sunflower. Oh, and he was shirtless again so you know, there's that.  I got some lovely action shots:

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What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, September 23, 2011

What I'm (Honestly) Wearing & Other Bits and Pieces

Happy Friday, all!

First, the outfit. I realized that these honest outfit posts are more "me" than the "dress-up-and-be-cute-time" outfit posts.  This time, I wore a shirt I bought at Old Navy forever ago, some bootcut jeans from NY&Co, and zero makeup.  I bet you're sad about the fact that I didn't wear the awesome sweatshirt that I found in a bag of clothing my sister was planning on giving to Goodwill.

The actual taking of pictures is about the same level of awkwardness no matter what I wear.  For example, this is what it looks like when you try to take an over-the-top winking face but as soon as you camera flashes you realize that there's something in your winking eye:

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In a word, awkward.

So I tried about 7000 other poses which made my head look photoshopped on, so I resorted to an old standard:

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And sorry, no vertical shots because my external flash no longer rotates.  I'm just a mess today, what can I say.

Now, the bits and pieces.

1. Rob and I decided to try a new vegetarian recipe.  In the last year or so Rob has given up red meat due to animal cruelty concerns, so typically we eat chicken for every meal.  We decided on something different and meat-less, and I found this recipe for penne Tuscana with spinach on AllRecipes.com.  It was positively delectable, so I highly recommend it.

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2. Rob decided that he wanted to try out contacts.  What's funny about this is that I haven't seen him without glasses on full-time since we were in high school together and it's been really weirding me out, how young he looks.  It's also funny because he hasn't really gotten the hang of contacts yet.  We spent about 20 minutes trying to get them out of his eyes amidst quite a bit of eye-pain and expletives.
Look how cute he is:

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3. Rob and I have been having some serious discussions about our future, now that he's well into his last year of college.  I think we've come to some agreements and have made some plans, but really we can't decide anything until we get closer to his graduation.  I don't deal well with ambiguity and feelings of helplessness so this has been a learning process for me.  I do have to say, however, that I can't express how fortunate I feel to be able to plan my life and my future with such an amazing human being.

4. I had a really rough day earlier this week.  My therapist and I have been working on my propensity to emotionally diconnect when I get upset, so in an attempt to ground myself I took the dog for a long walk.  It was nice to hear nothing but my own footsteps and the dog sniffing various things, and it definitely helped me refocus my energy.  This was a sight I came across just as the sun was preparing to set.  Sadly I only had my cell phone so this picture is a bit lacking quality, but I still feel at peace when I look at it.

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5. I've been doing Pilates with some friends every Thursday and I'm loving it.  It's easy to forget how much better I feel about myself when I take care of my body physically, but I'm really going to try to keep up with it.  Our gym also offers Piloxing (Pilates + kick-boxing) and I'm thinking of trying it out.

6. I'm getting used to the idea of heading off to Arizona for a month.  I've made a lot of plans and have sort of steeled myself mentally, but I think it's going to be pretty difficult to say goodbye to Robbie and my beast.  We're always better together and without him I feel a little...incomplete.  I am excited, however, to share all of my experience with you lovely people!

I hope you had a great week, and have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

I bought this lip gloss per a recommendation from this lovely lady.

Wow! Invisibility cloaks are 50% off!

I was turned on to this amazing Tumblr, Stop Hating your Body, by the lovely Lauren.

Check out these 11 Animals Posing for Pictures.

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I have a fondness for old-school anachronistic ads.

Stunning self-portraits from a 17-year-old.


Waking up Full of Awesome - this was extremely timely for me, and a truly excellent sentiment.


How about some nerdy t-shirts?

I could see Rob doing this to our future children.
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Isn't this picture gorgeous?

Check out this spread from a book written in 1967, "The Hippy's Handbook."

How cool is this frame idea? I think this would be easy enough even for the likes of me.

Please, please, please check out this photography project, "Created Equal." Totally stunning.

I hope you all have an amazing Thursday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm Sorry for Being Sorry

One habit that I have had a particularly difficult time breaking is my tendency to apologize for just about everything.  I apologize for what I say, I apologize for things I do and do not do, and I apologize for who I am.  I'm sure some of you have noticed that on my blog, when discussing a contentious topic (which does not happen often given my fear of confrontation) I usually spend as much time apologizing for my opinion as I do actually struggling to verbalize it.

As you can imagine I believe this comes from a deep-rooted insecurity that's been clinging to my back for, well, as long as I can remember.  I can't ever remember being totally comfortable with myself in any situation, and because I am usually repulsed by my own presence I assume that everyone else feels the same way.  Usually when someone agrees to hang out with me (for whatever reason) I give them ample opportunity to escape me it and then apologize for my seemingly endless awkwardness.  I generally operate under one of two assumptions when dealing with anyone in my life, to include Rob: (1) They are only spending time with me to humor me or (2) I've managed to dupe just about everyone in my life into thinking I'm a person that deserves love or friendship when really I'm just an obnoxious unwitting con-artist.

I had an epiphany about this a few days ago.  Simply put, when I apologize for being me I am granting power over my life to someone else.  I am allowing some other person--even if they don't realize I'm doing it or have malicious intentions--to control what I think and how I feel about myself.  And perhaps more illogically, I'm thereby making the assumption that that person isn't dealing with their own shit and trying to figure out life themselves.

It's as if I think that they can define me better than I can define myself.

My epiphany led me to the question of why I let this happen and why I let myself think this way.  I tried to remind myself that if I was really as repulsive as I imagine, I probably wouldn't have an amazing husband that astounds me every day with his kindness and understanding.  I probably wouldn't be as successful as I am in my job.  I probably wouldn't have the great friends that I do have.  My life is full and my life is happy, and it's time I come to fully appreciate it. 

So because I love lists, here is a list of things I need to work on toward this end:

  • I need to work on taking control of my life and of the image I have of myself.  This is the only life I have and I spend far too much time acting like I'm going to get yelled at at each turn.
  • I need to learn to truly love myself.  To not self-deprecate, even in jest, and to not treat myself any harder than I would treat another.
  • I need to stop the dysmorphia and to stop assuming that other people understand me better than I understand me.
  • I need to stop letting the dysmorphia define me.  I am not defined by my magnified flaws, but by the entire person that I am.
  • I need to let go of toxic people in my life.  This is a whole post in and of itself, but in the past I have typically been drawn to toxic, damaged people who suck out the best of me and turn their backs when I most need them.  I need to fill my life with friends who appreciate who Caitlin is.
  • I need to take care of myself.
I don't know how best to end this so I will do so with the quote from a woman I particularly admire:

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Camping: Cold Temperatures & Full Hearts

This last weekend Rob and I went to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island for some cool, crisp-aired hiking and camping.  Prior to this little excursion we'd never actually gone camping just the two of us, so this was long overdue.

I've also been under a lot of stress lately, both with work and personal issues. We're coming up on a lot of future plans and possible changes, and as you probably could guess I don't do very well with the unknown.  Suffice it to say a little getaway completely sans cell reception was needed.

We gathered up all of our camping gear, including 40-degree sleeping bags and Robbie's Army poncho liner, as the temperatures were due to reach 45 or lower, and headed out with our favorite traveling companion.  I thought it was appropriate that my favorite song to listen to when driving with Rob ("Far Side of Nowhere" by Social Distortion) was the first song to play on shuffle.  And yes, Rob still has his first-generation iPod mini from circa 2005.

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We stopped at a rest top on the highway for some lunch and relaxation, and finally we were on our way to the MDI.  We visited one of the many campfire stands to prepare for the fire at our campsite.

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Once we settled in at our campsite, we drove to the national park for some hiking.  Typically Acadia is positively packed with tourists, so we expected to wade through groups of people to get to the top of some of the mountains.  To our very happy surprise, we saw nary a soul and had the whole trail and summit to ourselves.  Rob, who has endured my camera attacks for years, finally took over the photographic duties and captured some extremely awkward pictures of me.

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I really enjoy hiking with Robbie and getting to enjoy Maine's most beautiful season.  Acadia National Park is one of the spots in Maine that all tourists visit but that not as many Mainers have ever seen. 
 
 
After our hike we drove to Bar Harbor to pick up some gluten-free pizza* and returned to our campsite for dinner and quality time.

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Once it got dark we finally curled up under one sleeping bag (and on top of another), and under Rob's warm army poncho, to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 on my iPad.  I didn't bring my camera into the tent with us but let me assure you, it was a lovely little scene.  Sadly I didn't get a ton of sleep because side-sleeping and camping don't really mix, and it was approximately 40 degrees outside of our warm little sleeping bag bubble.  Also sadly, Cypress didn't get a ton of sleep because she was completely confused as to what, exactly, was going on.

In the morning Robbie made me yummy gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes.

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All in all it was an absolutely lovely weekend.  I can't put into words how much I enjoy these quiet moments with my husband where it's only us and our gorgeous little beastie.  I'm always reminded of just how awesome my husband and I are together and how excited I am to share this life with him after being apart for so long.

If you made it through this insanely high-photo post, my kudos to you.

*We basically only got pizza so that we could do the following.  If any of you can catch the reference I am making in this series (read left-right), you will win 10,000 blog points.  Also, if any of you can make me a GIF of it WITH WORDS, you'll win something cool.

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