Living with cats

I feel like you all should be grateful I don’t post about the cats more than I do.

But they literally are a big part of our every single day. From the moment I wake up until I go to bed.

Here’s just a glimpse …..

Living with cats means:

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finding food in strange places

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letting bugs into your house on purpose

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keeping one eye on the kitchen counter at all times

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accepting that you will never again have nice things

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keeping garbage around for their toys

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not getting to loll about in bed in the morning (without being pestered)

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never being alone. Ever.

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We still love them :)

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currently

inspired by Danielle’s currently posts

my feet in the creek at Rocky Mountain National Park

my feet in the creek at Rocky Mountain National Park

Feeling

Stressed. Busy. Still trying to figure out how to balance my schedule and my deadlines and all the ‘someday’ projects I want to get started on now that I am mostly self-employed. Trying to make money for all the things we need and want is a constant focus.

Watching

Parks and Recreation. I love marathoning TV shows with Andrew and we’ve watched several seasons in the last few weeks.

Reading

The Game of Thrones series (technically A Song of Ice and Fire series). Currently book 2 of 5. I’m reading FAR less now that I don’t have a day job to sit at 40 hours/week.

Thinking about

Marketing. Marketing for L&R and Ghostbot Records and Maggie’s photography business and Kevin’s author site. I love marketing, actually.

Eating

Red bell peppers. ALWAYS. Sprouts has them for 3/$1 often and I can eat 1 or 2 a day. With chicken sausage or hummus or cottage cheese or stuffed with taco meat. I’m not picky. I love them.

Looking forward to

Traveling! We have potentially 3 really awesome trip opportunities in the next year! 2 different locations where we can get a free place to stay so we should just go to take advantage, and a 3rd location where there will probably be a wedding! Perfect reason to go.

Now you know why I am constantly feeling stressed about money :)

Making me happy

Being home.  I love our house. I love being home with the cats and my own kitchen and real food. I love not having to wear ‘work clothes’ every day. I love not having to stay awake until midnight just to get home.

I am SO happy being mostly self-employed in spite of the money stresses.

What’s new with you?

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First week all my own

As of Monday, I have been self-employed for 2 weeks. Admittedly, the 2 weeks were not “typical” for a few reasons …. and I don’t think I’ll have a “typical” week until … August or so. 12-hour working days + Andrew randomly off work on a Monday + going out of town + 4th of July? Totally a-typical. So, really, I’ve kind of just felt like I was on vacation for a couple weeks. I mean, vacation in which I had an insane to-do list. But, my (previous) day job never required me to care/pay attention when I wasn’t in the office so any day I was off work was truly off (from that job).

The last 2 weeks I’ve been able to combine hanging out with Andrew when he was home with intense periods of working on BUILD. It’s been kind of awesome. Since I’ve had so much to do between BUILD and 30Lists, the last couple weeks I’ve just been working CONSTANTLY. I have not done any of the housework I told Andrew I would do once I quit. I have not started the video game that I bought myself in November and have been saving ever since.

I’ll update you again when I figure out what my new schedule will look like – but I’ve literally been working 12 hour days almost every day for the last 2+ weeks so hopefully this is not my long term schedule.

Here’s a glimpse of what I did the first week of freedom …
I made a big pot of homemade chicken stock on MONDAY – since it needs to simmer on the stove for 8 hours, I otherwise would only been able to do this on a weekend. I actually started it at 6a, finishing it at 2p, we went out in the afternoon and I came home and used the stock to make soup for dinner.freedom  001

That first Monday I was off, Andrew *happened* to have off as well. LUCKY! So we got to go out together in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday!!

Previously – up until the end of 2012 – we literally only had Sundays off together. And even then it was only 3 out of every 4. The last few months, we’ve had Saturdays and Sundays together which has been magical. But now …. NOW WE HAVE ALL THE TIME! Andrew gets paid time off whenever his boss goes out of town, so now that I make my own schedule that means I can (theoretically) take that time off as well!!

So that first Monday, we visited the new library in our town! I love the library. I love that we live in an affluent suburb that can afford to build a new library (seems crazy, right?). And I kind of want to live in this library. I’ll do a full post about the library later…

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The girls seem to like having me home all the time. They follow me around the house and just sleep in the room where I’m working. They sleep pretty much all the time, which is nice since they’re usually SUPER obnoxious in the early mornings.

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I’ve been working in my office more and more – you’d think that that is what it was for, right? I am loving getting up early (5 or 6am range), grabbing my coffee and sitting at my office window. LOVE it. I love that I have this space. I just wish it wasn’t so hot in the afternoons. I’m looking forward to the fall and winter when I can work in there all the time.

Also this first week (and referenced in the picture below)? I was able to conduct an exclusive interview for BUILD in the middle of the afternoon. SO awesome to be able to tell Sarah “whenever you want, I’m home all the time.”

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My to do list has been under such a time crunch (definite BUILD launch date + going out of town) that I haven’t done hardly any housework. I intend to, of course. I don’t want Andrew to regret carrying so much of our financial load. But in reality, that first week of freedom I left dishes undone, closed my eyes to dirty floors and left piles of mail on our dining room table (among other things).

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But the girls following me around the house is probably going to be a regular thing now. Bless their hearts.

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This week:

Andrew is off work starting yesterday for almost a whole month (!!), I’ve got long to do lists for the upcoming 30 Days of Lists + this fall’s Onward and Upward AND we’re making plans to go out of town. And we have a ton of projects for around the house. I can’t even relax any more because the house to-do list is calling to me.

Not really a typical week :)

If you’re interested in quitting your day job too, take a look at my BUILD ecourse!

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P.S. How you can help if you don’t want to buy the ecourse? Anytime you have to buy something from Amazon, click through the banner on the <—- left sidebar. It’s no extra cost to you, but we’ll get a little tiny $ commission for directing the sale. Let me know if you have questions!! Thanks in advance!

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BUILD ecourse available today

So excited to announce that my BUILD blogging ecourse is now available!

I built a blog that has helped me quit my day job – with fewer than 1000 readers and ZERO advertisers.

The Petersiks from Young House Love built a blog that can employ both of them as well as get them a book deal. Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess built a blog that can employ a whole team, get them a book deal and change their whole career trajectory.

My personal goals have been somewhat smaller, but my blog still has been the driving force behind reaching those goals and quitting my day job.

And I want to teach you to do the same.

Learn more here, check out the full syllabus here … and then:

registernow

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I quit

Friday was my last day in corporate America!!

More info and a whole week’s worth of I-QUIT content over at Lemon and Raspberry.

Both Andrew and I are very very very very happy :)

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Staycation

I love to travel

So I’m not one to plan a “staycation” ….. But sometimes Staycations find you.

Easter weekend happened to be right near my birthday (which I get off from work) and, of course, Good Friday (a “quasi holiday” that I also got off from work). Throw in an extra PTO day that Monday and all of a sudden I had a 5-day “weekend” with nothing planned!

LOVE IT.

Crammed the errands that needed to be done in on Friday morning, and spent the rest of the weekend around the house, reading a TON and tackling some of the long-standing items on my to do list.

FRIDAY:

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Visited the DMV (to renew my license. It has now been 5 years that we’ve lived in CA again), visited the library (favorite errand) and the grocery store.

Then I got home at about 12:30p …. with a wealth of time in front of me. MIRACULOUS.

I tell you, I was SO excited to have so much time off with nothing specific planned I was giddy.

So I read a novel….

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I don’t have any photos from the rest of the day, so I probably didn’t do much else :)

SATURDAY:

Andrew was home all day AND it was the day chosen for March’s Day in the Life project, so there are a ton of photos.

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Forced snuggles, computer work and Andrew made eggs for breakfast.

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Shower, made the bed, computer work and spent some more time reading this novel. I LOVED it. I think I finished it on Saturday, actually.

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In the afternoon, Andrew went out back to do some (much needed) yardwork, and brought the cats with him. We got them leashes (I know) so they can hang out in the yard with us/Andrew while we’re there.

Actually, we only had 1 leash, so Andrew took a quick trip to Petco to get a second.

Khaleesi crying because we left her inside:

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Andrew has been working on taking out all this weed/ground cover so we can till and replant grass and veggies and all. It’s a constant battle and we never seem to have enough time to make decent progress before the weeds come back.

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Problem with the leashes: Khaleesi is actually too small for it. She pulled a little too hard, dragged the chair which made a loud noise that scared her enough that she just *slipped* out of the leash.

Sigh.

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More reading and more computer work that night. It’s how I CHOOSE to spend my Saturday nights :)

SUNDAY:

Easter.

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Andy and Julie came over for lunch (we got Stonefire Grill)

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And then the rest of the day we just hung out. More reading, more computer work, and I *think* we marathoned several episodes of The Killing season 2.

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Andrew started craving sugar (I try not to buy any) so he took a quick trip to Albertson’s for some CHEAP donuts and cupcakes.

…. and I still had 2 full days off ahead of me!!

MONDAY:

VERY low-key day.
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I had a Skype chat first thing in the morning …. and then nothing else the rest of the day.

More reading (Andrew dragged one of our chairs over to the back door so he could sit int he sun like a lizard), more computer work, more TV marathoning.

We are so easy.

TUESDAY:

My 31st birthday!!!!

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Breakfast at the Egg Plantation. Breakfasts out are one of my favorite things!

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More reading. More computer work. More TV marathoning. In this last photo you can see that I wore PJ pants most of the day.

Pretty much the best 5 days off I could ask for.

Happy Birthday to me – and thank you Andrew for ALSO taking days off work!!

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New glasses

Neither Andrew or I have had our eyes checked in YEARS.

So in February I finally got around to checking out some places on Yelp! to make us both eye appointments.

We ended up going to Santa Clarita Family Optometry with Dr. Mikhail

She was fantastic and her whole staff was awesome – nice and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend Dr. Mikhail if you are in the market for glasses and all.

It’s a small little store front on Valencia Blvd (same shopping center as Whole Foods).

Everyone was nice, and we of course got what we went in for but here’s what I love specifically …

…. after my eye exam, comparing my new prescription to my previous one (from December 2007), Dr. Mikhail more or less said I didn’t need new glasses if I didn’t want them. She didn’t push any sales or make me feel like I HAD to do anything.

(I did end up getting new glasses because the prescription was different enough to help and my work paid for them, but that was totally my own choice and not because she or any of her staff made me feel like I needed them).

Zach helped me pick out the frames (and was really awesome about getting to know my style right away to help me find the right ones for my face and that I would feel comfortable in).

My prescription is very mild, and I really only would need it when watching a movie with subtitles or driving some place unfamiliar at night.

But I’m still glad I got them …

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My new (very) parttime job

SO …. In addition to my ‘day job’ (that takes up 52.5 hours/week including commute) …. I ALSO have taken on a very (very) parttime job.

You may have seen this on Facebook already – but I am the Studio Manager for Maggie Keegan Gross Photography!!

My first official day was Jan 15 … and since then I work about 5 hours each week.

Duties include customer service-type work (like scheduling appointments, taking payments, etc), some marketing work (like writing blurbs for her newsletter or researching getting published) and assisting on photo shoots (like carrying 2 dining room chairs in and out of Placerita Canyon State Park).

It’s fun and it’s interesting, and it’s the kind of job I am actually really good at.

Plus I get to work with/for Maggie, who I’ve known for YEARS.

I get to do most of the work from home, in whatever hours I have.

And I get free headshots :)

So, you know. Forgive the sparse posting here in the last few months. I’ve been BUSY!

What’s new with you?

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So I learned over the weekend that my library only allows you to request up to 50 books.

Huh.

I’m addicted to books…. I get the same little rush/thrill out of requesting/checking out/reading (library) books that other people get from buying clothes or furniture or something. I’m on track to read 100 books this year (approximately). I make sure I find time to read for at least 20 minutes a day to keep my sanity.

I also have this thing where I want to know everything. Truly.  I want to be the smartest person you know …. Working on that by reading a little bit of everything …. from crime novels to U.S. History to marketing to nutrition to the classics and on and on.

The other day I was discussing with a co-worker how I decide what to read next…. I’ve developed this little “system” over the last few months and I LOVE it…

STEP ONE:

Spend a ridiculous amount of time browsing Goodreads recommendations and add about a million TO READ books to your list.

Currently I have almost 700 books on my to-read list….. This is a combination of browsing Goodreads and adding specific books I hear about on blog posts or podcasts or from friends.

STEP TWO:

Sort your TO READ list by highest average rating.

Obviously there are some outliers…. In the screenshot below, I bet The Birth of NASA only has 1 review and that’s why it’s 5 stars, but in general I find this to be a decent guide.

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STEP THREE:

Scroll through your TO READ list and pick out 3 or 8 or 14 books that you want to read next.

(Note: Because I’m reading U.S. History in roughly (roughly) chronological order, I skip over all of the after-1830 U.S. History books at the top of the list)

STEP FOUR:

Add those selected books into your requests list at the library.

STEP FIVE:

Most important! Our library allows you to request books for the future. ….

So when I put in a request I (almost always) choose a date sometime the future. Mostly randomly.

For example, I read a Gore Vidal book, decided I liked it and went and added a bunch more of his books. I spaced them out randomly for dates in May, June, August and October.

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STEP SIX:

Wait for the library to let you know your books are available.

Since I am *mostly* choosing random dates weeks or months in the future AND sometimes I have to wait on a list in addition to that future date, it’s almost always a surprise to see what book/books are available for me to pick up at any given time.

Our library emails when books are available, so I never have to log on to check if I don’t want to.

ALSO: I have this thing where I don’t like to renew books. It’s a point of pride to be able to read each book in the 3 weeks I get it the first time.

*One exception to this method: When I’m REALLY busy, I do log in and move the dates back for some books if I know I won’t have time to read the book when it’s available to be checked out.

How do you decide what to read next?

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New Year’s at Schubert HQ

SUPER exciting …. Andrew and I both had New Year’s Day off.

Between his crazy work schedule and my vacation black-out dates, we don’t get hardly any days off together.

In fact, in the 10+ years we’ve been together, we’ve only started to get weekends off together in the last couple months. True story. Finally makes me feel like a grown-up.

Anyway …. New Year’s Eve I worked til 8p, and we didn’t really do much that night. Saving it all for New Year’s Day! A WHOLE DAY off together ….

This is what we did …..

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Andrew laid on the couch all day with kleenex and throat lozenges within reach.

Poor thing.

The girls played with this new “toy” – a little string tied to the landing. I read and watched movies and worked on the computer.

And Andrew just stayed under the covers and slept.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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currently

In honor of my BIRTHDAY!!!

Loving: The way Andrew talks to the cats. His voice gets all high and lovey like he’s talking to little girls. He is just ENAMORED with the cats and it cracks me up. Especially because they’ve been getting more vocal lately and we have “conversations” with them :) He bought them leashes so they could hang out in the backyard with him while he weeds and stuff.

Reading: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – recently made into a movie (with Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and  Viola Davis among others). Just finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. LOVE Gillian Flynn. I want to buy and re-read all her books.

Watching: Game of Thrones season 2 – we get the final disc from Netflix today! I hate that HBO won’t put their shows on Netflix live streaming.

Creating: A big big big blogging ecourse. Project Life pages. Scotland Blurb book. A personalized Team Schubert cookbook (using these). Trip itinerary for this summer. I always have a ton of projects in the works

Thinking about: The big big big blogging ecourse I’m building for L&R. I think about it constantly. I know the structure and 99% of the content, but I keep thinking of stuff to add and do and re-write and all. I think about it in the shower. I think about it while I’m driving.

Surprised by: How close I am to being able to quit the day job. For so long it was a ‘someday’ goal …. but it’s starting to feel really really real. Andrew is 100% on board (even though our income is going to drop significantly). I actually have very little left to do before I can quit. I actually know how many days of work I have left (at the most, possibly less). I can’t believe how close this is!!

Making me sad: Disappointed in myself for falling off the I Quit Sugar bandwagon. I won’t tell you how much weight I’ve gained back. It’s just because ice cream is my vice (see photo above). I KNOW that I feel better when I stick to protein+veggies, but ice cream is soooo good. So today is the last day of sugar (again). I bought the print version of the I Quit Sugar books. I already own the pdfs, but I want to A) spend the money that will keep me accountable AND B) having that physical book sitting on my counter will remind me over and over. I think I’ll be able to do SO MUCH better once I’m no longer working at the day job. There is always some kind of junk food sitting around in the office. And then I’m just sitting in my cubicle hour after hour and I eat because I’m bored. Looking forward to recommitting to eating healthy.

Making me happy: The SoCal weather – warm enough for skirts and open windows at night. Salads every day. I bought a dozen red bell peppers from Costco and we ate them in a week. Our house. LOVE it. Needs a lot of work but I still love it. The library (I need to do a post about how I request books). Traveling (planning trips for this summer).

What’s new with you?

 

Post structure inspired by Danielle

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our new Team Schubert Christmas tree

(going a little out of order so I can post about our Christmas tree before Christmas)

Our first Christmas in this home.

We have this lovely large window for a Christmas tree …. but as the holiday grew closer I started to get a little stressed out about our new floors. They’re wood-laminate … so if even a little bit of water seeps in between the ‘boards’ the ‘wood’ will swell up and the floor will basically be ruined.

How could I protect my floor from water with these 2 destructive monsters? They like to play with water! They put their paws in their water dish and splash it around. Plus, I knew they would at least try to chew on and bat at the branches which could shake the tree and spill water.

I was trying to envision how to put a big water-proof tarp down but still make it look festive enough.

Honestly a little stressed. We don’t really spend a lot of money on nice things – so I would like to keep this floor decent as long as possible.

And then I was reminded that it is totally ok to have a fake tree.

Problem solved.

Except for the “friends and family” who tried to publicly shame me on Facebook for not getting a real tree. Ahem. Uncle Ted.

Andrew and I talked about it – he is not as neurotic as my family in insisting on a real tree – and last Thursday when I was off work we went and picked it out.

For the last 4 years – since we moved back to California – we’ve had an annual tradition to help Andrew’s mom pick up her Christmas tree. Since we have a pickup truck and Andrew is a strapping man and all.

This year was no different.

We met her over at Home Depot Thursday morning for some tree shopping.

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I stood back and took photos – and Julie and Andrew were quite quick about finding a tree they liked.

 

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Then indoors to get our tree:

Just a simple, unlit 7.5″ tree. Not too expensive (because I had a feeling the cats would destroy it) but at least sturdy enough to last us several years.

We brought it home and set it up later that day …

 

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Both girls were a little wary …. and Khaleesi was downright SCARED of the noises. But they came around pretty quickly. First smelling…. then chewing on the branches.

We didn’t have time to fluff out the branches before we had to leave again, so we just left the tree as-is for a bit.

When we came home later that night, though, the girls had definitely gotten used to this strange plastic-and-metal-tower in the living room.

Khaleesi just climbed on up to about 2/3rds of the height and hung out to chew on branches! It was hilarious and adorable and I got a bunch of photos the first couple days before making her get down.

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And now most of my time at home is spent keeping her from climbing up again.

Fang is much more scared than Khaleesi – and it’s a good thing because Fang weighs about 4+ pounds more than Khaleesi and is waaaay too big to be climbing.

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We’ve fanned out the branches now, and it looks OK … but you can definitely tell where the cats climb up because those branches are BENT.

Each branch is supposed to go straight out (90 degrees from the ‘trunk’) …. and we have big chunks of branches that are bent at about 45 degrees or so. Each time they climb up I’m again reminded how glad I am that we did not get a real tree – they shake the whole thing so much that water would be spilling all over.

Sigh.

I can never have nice things again.

We’re not even going to decorate it. They will chew on the lights and break all the ornaments, and since no one is home for about 10 hours each day there’s no stopping them.

Maybe next year.

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We’ll pull it out again and the cats will remember all over again how much fun it is to climb all the way up …. If this tree lasts a few years it will at least be the same amount of $ we’d been spending on real trees. Fingers crossed.

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Bringing us gifts

I’m never going to have a full night’s sleep again.

Fang wakes me up with a paw to the face. Khaleesi wakes me up by bringing me gifts.

A couple weeks ago, I was woken up by some weird noise I could not for the life of me place. It sounded like someone tapping a plastic tub of some kind. But we don’t have any plastic in our bedroom – and who would be tapping at 2am anyway?

The noise was loud enough and persistent enough that I was sitting up in bed, trying to ascertain where the sound was coming from. Andrew, of course, sound asleep, not bothered in the slightest. I woke up enough to realize that is was probably the cats doing something. But again, we don’t have any plastic in our room. What could they be doing?

I got out of bed and walked around to Andrew’s side of the bed, where it sounded like the cats must be.

The moonlight was diffused coming through the window, but I saw enough to notice that Khaleesi was on the bed near Andrew’s feet, bent over gnawing on something. She stopped when I got to her, and I could see that she had somehow carried her (mostly) empty food bowl all the way upstairs, into our bed, turned it face-down and was trying to get a grip on the bottom of it with her little mouth.

I had noticed her playing with the bowl in the kitchen a few days prior. It’s significantly bigger than her head, and nearly half her size, but very lightweight so she’s able to bat it around the floor (making a ton of noise). I’ve even seen her carry it once – rim in her mouth and the rest of the bowl hanging down almost all the way to her feet.

But how she carried it all the way from the kitchen to the stairs and up the stairs and into our room and onto our bed? I have no idea.

WHY she would do that was an even bigger question.

A few nights after that, I was woken up by Khaleesi playing with one of her little toys on top of the blanket directly between my legs. Since she had woken me up, I sat up a little, and tossed the ball off of the bed through the bedroom doorway – hoping she would follow the ball and leave me alone.

Not long after I had lay back down and fallen asleep, Khaleesi was back on the blanket playing.

I then remembered that I have recently been trying to teach her to play fetch with said toy ball. She’s been doing pretty well, so I shouldn’t be that surprised that she brought it back to me.

In this instance, however, she went above and beyond. Khaleesi had brought me back her ball, just like I always ask her to. But she also brought me one of my camera lens caps that she had found god-knows-where. You know, just in case I wanted that too.

My only guess is she also assumed we needed her food bowl so figured out a way to bring it to us.

Since then she has brought up her food bowl several more times, brought up their toys multiple times, and while we were out of town recently they brought up an empty treats bottle (seriously no idea how they did that).

So, I guess she has learned how to play fetch!

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Happy Anniversay: 7 years today

Happy Anniversary to my favorite person! (also, happy election day).

Today we will be hanging out at home and going to work.

We’re pretty low-key for our anniversaries … here’s a look:

last year (house hunting and visited our now-house for the first time)

2 years ago (kind of. We got anniversary portraits taken in August)

3 years ago (visited Malibu)

4 years ago (breakfast date)

6 years ago (Grand Canyon)

7 years ago (image by Melissa Jill)

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Dear fall

 

Dear fall,

I love you. I’m so glad you’re finally here.

Andrew built the rest of our window screens last week just so we could enjoy you more.

Thank you for giving me a reason to break out my cardigans and rain boots.

Thank you for making apples and almond butter taste even better than usual.

Thank you for giving us spiced apple cider and month full of scary movies.

xo

-A

inspired by Ali

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