Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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If You’re Going To Be A Writer…

…you should probably consider marrying someone who is slightly obsessed with coffee. Not just making coffee or drinking it, but knowing the beans, learning how to roast, and brewing it in at least 5 different ways.

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there’s ray

Or, marriage aside, learn to do all this yourself. You just can’t go back to drip or those weird little cups after experiencing the real thing.

Because like me, you might know that having a cup of coffee or tea is just about the nicest way to start a day off. Why is this? I think it’s because it’s warm and cozy (even in the summer), tastes great, and is equally nice to enjoy alone or with someone.

I love drinking coffee on my own. I love drinking it with Greg even more. (And that’s only partly because I usually mess up the measurements somehow.)

This morning my dear hubs roasted his own green beans for the first time. And it worked like a charm.

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the green beans

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roaster and beans afterwards

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Greg!

After a morning like this, a writer should surely be able to bust out at least one poem.

And if that’s not enough… grow some flowers. And get a chicken that is cuter than pie.

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lovely! When I drink my coffee, I look at these.

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Harvey’s cute butt

Happy Tuesday everyone. Try to step out of your coffee comfort zone and brew in a new way today!

Love, Lou

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Always Be True. Period.

Day 25, Saturday: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad)

It wasn’t so much something about me, as it was advice, that changed my life and stuck with me forever.

Always, always, be true to your husband. – Grandpa Bob

I had the very special opportunity to spend time with my Great Grandpa Bob in the last few years of his life. He was the most interesting man and let me tell you… I have yet to find someone with eyes that twinkle the way his did, a smile as contagious, and an outlook on life that was more positive.

To put it simply: I have yet to meet anyone as happy as Bob was.

I try to be more like him each and every day.

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might have been the most attractive human being to ever walk the earth, just sayin. is that weird? to have a crush on my great grandpa?

We sat together and chatted for hours and hours.

He sang, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” He was willing to answer any question. He ended most of his profound statements with a strong, “Period!” (“And that was how it was! Period!”) He may have had moonshine some whiskey in his fridge.

We discovered that he and I have the same hands. I used to dislike my thicker fingers (Meredith got the slender, skinny and delicate hands of my mother’s side) but when I noticed that each of my fingers were shaped exactly like Bob’s, suddenly I loved my hands.

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There’s that SMILE!!!! Please, God, let me be cool enough to still sit on santa’s lap when I’m 90 years old. LOVE THIS!!!

He told me he loved me. He told me that God would always be with me. He told me to always, always, be true to my husband.

Oh, and about his continuously positive outlook on life… one more little fact… he was blind.

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when Meredith and I went to visit!!

Grandpa Bob had no problem talking about his own death, which he referred to as “crossing the threshold into eternity” and nothing else. We talked about heaven. He wanted his body to be donated to science, to help others with the same eye condition. He lived to be over 90 years old and his mind was sharper than a blade. (I hope I also get that gene.) Certain points in our conversation brought us both to tears. I suppose I get that strong emotion from Bob, too. We laughed hysterically and he told me outrageous stories from his youth.

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giving him a smooch!

He had Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that worsens with time until eventually, you are legally blind. My grandmother (the beautiful one who I had mentioned here) and uncle also have this.

They, too, are the happiest people I’ve ever met.

How is this possible? How can these three individuals, who were robbed of something as precious as sight, still smile wider than all others? How can they laugh, cry, and show emotion that seems to radiate out from them without them trying? How can they see so much?

I’ll never know and I doubt I’ll ever be as wise or gracious or sparkle the way they do. But I’ll never stop trying.

I’ll never forget my Grandpa Bob, his hands, or his advice.

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my visit with Greg, the last time I saw Grandpa Bob

Love, Lou

(And I love you forever Grandpa Bob!)


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Poems, Laughter and {not} Swooning

Blog Every Day In May Challenge

 

{Today’s blog is going to be short and sweet after yesterday’s rant ;) }

Day 23, Thursday: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you

I’ve learned that poems don’t have to rhyme and boys don’t have to act macho in order to be strong. 

Case in point:

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PROOF that we do, for real, call each other Lou

Just in case you can’t read this, it says:

To my dearest sweet Lou,

How I love thee

You ARE my best friend

How I love sleeping in a twin bed

You ARE so warm and cuddly

I surely never want to leave

I love you so so so

You ARE the best Lou

Anyone can ever ask for

Enjoy your morning, love you so!

Lou!

*Yes, we do actually sleep in a twin bed. We’re cuddlers!*

Greg isn’t a super romancy guy. We never even went on a first date until after we were engaged. I can count with a peace sign how many times he’s gotten me flowers (um, that was my clever way of saying it’s happened maybe twice) and he would rather make me laugh than make me swoon.

I LOVE IT.

This poem is great for so many reasons. It doesn’t rhyme. He only left it for me to make me laugh. I used to have a saying that if any guy I once dated either got me a cheesy gift OR wrote me a poem/song, I would probably end the relationship. I guess I just can’t appreciate that stuff the way a girl should. There was one poem someone wrote me in high school that was so awful, I (naturally) told Greg about it as soon as we began to date. He’s been coming up with terrible poetry ever since.

Not that this was a bad one, but it did make me laugh when I woke up and saw it sitting next to my coffee mug.

Another thing I’ve learned that school never taught me:

Laughter trumps everything. 

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give him a piggy back ride

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make pretty faces so he loves you

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no pda in this pool. just laughter

 

What have you learned that school never taught you?

<3 Lou


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Bad Poetry, Bowl Cuts & The Past

We have all done things we regret. Right? Please don’t tell me I’m alone. I’ve done things that I still feel guilty about. I’ve also done things that are embarrassing or just silly. I can’t change the past, even if I really, really want to. Too bad. I can, however, use what I’ve learned and start a better future. My husband Greg always says, in moments when I’m down, “Don’t water last year’s crops.”

It says so much. Last years crops are dead and gone and there’s absolutely no point in watering them. Do, however, water this year’s crops- the ones growing right now. I need to nourish the future I have by taking care of my present. That silly old past- it won’t get me down!!

Here are a few examples of past moments I need to move on from (go ahead, laugh… you’ll be laughing with me, not at me… I think)

My first acrostic poem:

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Looks kind of violent from far away- all that red

For anyone who might have trouble reading this, it says:

M elinda how creative was that? at least I used two different colors

E nergetic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still love the exclamation point, to a fault

L emen   ? maybe, although that’s debatable. I do like lemons, though

I nsperacian   my spelling did improve, with time

N eet   never, have I ever in my life been “neet”… or neat

D o   well, that’s just common sense. I do lots of things

A ward   I like to think I’d just won some great award in my classroom, but there’s no solid evidence for that

I’ve been humbled by so many things. I’ve learned not to compare myself to my sisters (my twin, Meredith, wrote a poem just like this and hers is awesome!! straight lines, correct spelling, and words that actually described her) If I did that, I’d just go crazy. I’ve learned to laugh at things that might be embarrassing… like… LIKE THIS PICTURE!!!!

My first “mistake” haircut:

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most likely, I wrote the poem around this same time (yikes)

I looked like a boy. My bowl cut matched the baby Tommy doll in the case I’m holding. I think that’s a classic Christmas morning nightgown. I had braces at age 6… brutal.

But I digress.

This beautiful, coherent acrostic poem (and the bowl cut) is in my past. I can’t change that! (which I’m completely okay with…I’m one of those people who can laugh at myself…thank goodness) But you know what else? Something I CAN do?? I can write a new one!!! Yes!!

Here is a new version, written today.

M elinda some things from our pasts shouldn’t change, so there, I kept the original M

E nigmatic sometimes…

L aughing daily

I nterested in almost everything

N ever neat though I’m working on it

D edicated to those I love and pursuing my dreams

A pprehensive at times

There! Done. Changed, or updated, something from my past.

Although- now that I’ve gone and done that, I think I like the original one better <3

Another example of something I can’t change:

The dreaded brown and short hair. I don’t know what I was thinking. Hadn’t I learned from my childhood, that short hair just isn’t my thing? I went through an identity crisis. Luckily, Greg still proposed when I had this hair, but even more lucky…. it grew back.

My second “mistake” haircut:

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not me at all!

It took years to get back to my “normal” self. In the same way, when I make big mistakes and hurt those I love, it seems as though it can take years (or even longer) for things to go back to normal. Sometimes the people I love most in life surprise me and show me complete grace…forgiving me right away. Greg is the best at this. It is often ME who has a tantrum-like moment and often HIM who smiles and says, “Okay, can we be done arguing now? I just thought of the birds outside and it made me so happy!” Literally. This exact thing has happened.

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Everything is back to normal ;)

I’m so grateful for poetry of my youth, the fact that hair grows back, and people who chose to forgive, rather than hold grudges. I’m thankful for mistakes and the fact that we can LEARN from them, rather than wallow in them forever.

<3

If you’re interested… Here are some examples of my poetry. I like to think I’ve come a long way since the acrostic poem of my younger days, but you should let me know what you think ;)


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Now THAT Is Real

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My parents… their teen years!

When I look at this picture, I think… “Wow, they certainly look meant to be.” They both had the style going: choker necklaces, long hair, involvement in school, what I would call “hippy mentalities,” kind smiles and good looks.

I’m so thankful that not only did this couple look good together, but they really were meant to be. Today my parents have been married for 33 years.

33 years is a long time!

It was a Tuesday. Kirsten Faye Braaten and William Bruce Wilder were getting ready to make the commitment to love each other forever. Who gets married on a Tuesday? Two people who have to work that very week, who have very little money, and who will get a discount at the hotel where one of them works. That’s who. And you know what? They say they wouldn’t have it any other way. Their small wedding was a special one. A few good friends and their families were there. They had a “reception” that took place at the hotel, in a room that wasn’t booked solely for them. My, how the times have changed.

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Mr. and Mrs. Wilder

It’s no wonder these two made it work with the bare minimum. They were meant to be. My parents hardly knew each other when they got married. They had known each other (somewhat) in college, and then, having spent some time together (a total of about 4 weekends, as they were living in separate places) knew they were meant to be. They said it was like a magical force simply willing them together- that they had hardly a thing to do with it. It was all in God’s plan.

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my mom, her two new brother in laws, and another groomsmen

Besides, look how cool my mom is. No wonder my dad fell head over heels ;)

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my mom, opening wedding presents (we played dressup with the dress she is wearing my entire childhood!)

It doesn’t take a storybook romance to make things work. I know that my parents have had their share of rough times, but they’ve always, always made it through. When I think of my own marriage, I look to them, because they never gave up on each other. They never gave up on their children, on their lot in life or on their faith that things would always be okay.

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newly weds :)

My parents have never told me to do something because of money or popularity. They’ve encouraged me and all three of my sisters to follow our dreams and be happy in doing so. Maybe it helps that they come from humble beginnings and they know it’s possible to survive on beans, rice, and a lotta love. Because of their example, I like to think I don’t want for much. I can live simply and love much.

My mom told me many times growing up that once I’m married and have started a family, people who might try to get in there and ruin it, or whose lives seem so much more exciting… that they’re just fake. They’re not real. They may look one way, but that’s just an outward appearance. Yes, others might be really exciting and kind and have great lives, but it doesn’t make mine any less. I truly believe that now. I wake up each day to an existence I am happy and content with. More than that… I wake up every day to a life that makes me smile and laugh and wish only for another simple day of the same thing. Just like my mom, I also married a great man. The love of my parents and the love I experience with Greg is something that can’t be made up. Fiction can’t compare.

So thanks, mom and dad. Thanks for sticking together for 33 years.

Because that’s real.

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I love this one! Always having fun, those two…


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Being Patient and Kind <3

I’ve never been a huge believer in giving up something for lent. It can be fun to challenge yourself… but only if it’s just that: FUN. It’s no good to give up something and then make everyone around you as miserable as you are. Am I right, or am I right? I’ve never successfully given up one particular thing for the entire season, which always left me feeling like I didn’t accomplish something I should have.

SO! This year, rather than giving up something, like coffee or sugar or laughter (ha), I decided to add something to my every day life.

Greg and I have been reading 1 Corinthians 13 every single night.

It sounds simple… the “love is patient, love is kind” verse we all know. I have done a lot of thinking on this particular verse of the Bible, and I think that I’ve always passed it over as something that is “too popular.” How ridiculous of me, first of all. We didn’t have it read at our wedding because I wanted to be more original. Again, how ridiculous. The entire chapter is beautiful and meaningful in a way I had never understood until reading it with my husband every night. It’s perfect for a marriage. In fact, I’d say it’s downright required.

I recommend this sort of “every night ritual” for anyone. ANYONE. Single, married, divorced, dating… basically, if you interact with other people at all, this verse could do you some good. Why not try to be patient and kind in all we do? It will only make the world a better place. Why not STOP being envious of other people, STOP being too proud, and start living a more humble and content existence?

I want to be someone who isn’t quick to get angry. Especially before I ever have kids… I’d love to get my temper in check. (not that I have a crazy temper, but we can all use some improvement, I’m sure!) I want to be someone who can forgive and clean off the slate, especially in my marriage. “Love keeps no record of wrongdoing” has been one of the most influential parts of my lent challenge. I’ve let a lot of things go. I want to protect what’s important to me, trust in Greg, never give up hope for our future and persevere through it all. I’m more than three years into my marriage and I can say that I’ve failed in every single one of these and I will probably fail in them again. I’m human. All I can do is try, pray and wake up every day with a smile that we’ve made it this far! Making something real last is worth it.

The result of all this?

I’m happier, smile more often, I feel lighter (in my soul!) and my marriage is in better shape than ever before. If you read something over and over, eventually it takes on a whole new meaning. Each day something different will pop out at you. It’s just like hearing a song and because your life is different than the last time you heard it, the song has completely changed.

I recommend this challenge, and not just for lent. It’s almost over, anyway. I have a feeling that even after Easter comes and goes, Greg and I will still continue to study this passage and I will continue to pray for those changes to stay with me and grow in my heart. <3

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one of my favorite pictures of us!

On a different note, another thing I did in the past month was read one of the craziest stories of my life.

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you will not believe what these pages hold

Ever heard of Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal? I hadn’t, either. That is, until my brother-in-law told me I should read it. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t tell anyone under the age of 18 to read this book. It was excellent, but uncomfortable (aren’t most great books at least a little bit uncomfortable?) I don’t want to spoil the ending in any way, shape or form, so I won’t tell you too much. I will say that this book is a page turner, CRAZY, sexual, surprising, and will make you gasp as you read it.

Just trust me.

:)


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Honky Tonk Dancin’

Last night I went dancing in a real country bar. Greg (hubby), Meredith (twin) and I went to see our friend Alex play with an old time country band, Honky Tonk Deluxe, on the other side of the mountain. We even took a road trip to get there!!

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Mer and Greg (uh-oh, our driver looks asleep) 

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after eating all our traveling snacks

 

By road trip, I mean we drove an hour to the East side. Why is it that any drive lasting longer than thirty minutes seems to require snack food? I wanted to buy a huge back of dried mangos, some nuts, and of course, bring plenty of water. We didn’t actually need anything, though! We wound up stealing some Nut Thins from my in-laws on the way out of town. Yum.

This is what the bar looked like! The Mineshaft:

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the two lous

The best part of the entire evening was by far the DANCING!!! I love to dance. It used to be hard to get Greg to dance with me, but lately he’s been pretty up for it. That makes me so happy and excited. The interesting thing about this particular bar was that it was filled with older folk who knew how to dance. Twirling, two stepping, line dancing… the whole bit. Every man had a handlebar mustache and boots… every woman had on a studded belt and fancy hair. It was that kind of bar. Even I was hesitant to get on the dance floor, and once we did, I felt totally in the way of the pros.

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do we look scared?

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We scooted our way over to the corner of the dance floor. There’s Alex of Wildewood, playing away!!

best picture of the night...

best picture of the night…

Here’s Meredith and me, enjoying the music, food and entertainment (those handlebar mustaches, to be exact.)

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twins!

Overall, it was a great night. We laughed and had so much fun. Every once in a while it’s nice to get to the other side of the mountain. You never know what you’ll see!!

Oh, and did I mention how great my husband is? Not only does he dance with me… he doesn’t leave anyone out! <3

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my two favorite people!!


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Spring, Sallys, and Smiles

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Our garden!!!

It seems as though spring is here… at least in the South Valley. It has been warm and therefore, Greg and I have spent every possible moment outside. When it’s warm we eat every meal in the backyard. We take walks. We bird watch… I smile WAY more. The sunshine makes life that much better. (Look! I even started hanging up my clothes to dry!!!)

Thanks to a friend who is a PRO at gardening and growing crops, we have had hoop houses set up all winter. Look what’s inside!!

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LETTUCE!!!

We picked lettuce (organic!! omg! hooray!!) straight from the backyard, took it inside, washed it, and ate it about ten minutes after picking. I doubt I’ve ever eaten such a nutritious salad before in my life.

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salad aka sally!!

Greg and I call salads “sallys.” Sometimes, if we’ve eaten heavy all week, one of us will say, “Hey Lou? Can we just have sally tonight?”

The answer is always YES!!!

Also- I made the best dressing. Wanna know what was in it? Here, I’ll tell you!

-jalepeno pepper sauce

-olive oil

-dijon mustard

I just poured a little of each and voila! Sally dressing.

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yummmm

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mason jar… yay for no plastic

After some bird watching, eating outside, and enjoying the beautiful day, we are two very content Lous.

<3

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:)

 

 

 

 


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Happy Birthday, Lou

Yesterday we celebrated Greg’s birthday. He turned 27, and I am simply trying to wrap my head around the fact that when we started dating, he was 21. In a lot of ways, I still picture us as that couple, me 17, Greg 21, but in many ways, we’re not the same people at all.

Since we’re, ahem, less than rich (but rich in love! yes, it’s true!), I decided that I’d write a blog and post some pictures of my very favorite moments with Greg. It’s my gift to him. I figured, after he proposed on my 19th birthday, there was no one-upping him on gifts. Besides, even if this is a day late, it’s something. I’m not an organized person at all, so I had to scramble around facebook and my in-law’s computer to locate some good pictures.

Here they are. I would also call this list (after “The Happy Birthday Lou Photo Album”), quite simply, “How to be a happy couple.” It’s pretty darn easy, if you find the right person!

Take your very first picture together, the very first day you ever hang out alone, and then don’t stop hanging out. (this is that age I was telling you about… 17 and 21!)

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First Picture of the Lous

Go to some weddings, drink too much, and have fun in a photobooth!

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drunky?

Always ask him to dance, even if he really doesn’t want to. He will have fun, even if he doesn’t quite know it at the time!

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Me, so happy!

On your very first lake trip, make up even after a sleepless night spent trying to fold one tiny blanket over both of you (think, like a taco…).

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the lake

Eat a giant hotdog together, no matter how unhealthy/gross you know it is. He will rub your back when you throw it up later that day. (um, and get some matching sweatshirts.)

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ugh

Go to New York and attempt to get a good picture in front of the Statue of Liberty. :)

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I’m trying to get him to pose…

Always support his facial hair. 

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the beard

Take some great pictures at sunset. (especially if you are doing long distance- for two years-… it will help you remember those good times!)

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hugs!

Never take yourself too seriously. Ever.

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pool time

Hang out with your friend’s cool Great Dane, and don’t get one of your own if neither of you is quite responsible enough for a dog…. 

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our dream dog

However, if you do wind up getting a dog, take him on hikes. Then, when it just isn’t working in your small apartment, send the dog to family in Minnesota who will take him on long runs every day!

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Aksel, he was a good dog.

Go camping, hunting, or simply rough it together for a few days in the outdoors. It will bring you closer together. (no one likes doing anything alone and in the dark in the middle of the woods… you know what I mean.)

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don’t we look tough?

Always get a very nice dessert and share it. And try to go on dates. Our first real date only happened thanks to Greg’s older brother, Chris, who gave us a gift certificate. I am pretty sure we were already engaged. haha

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my 21st

Wake him up from naps just to take a picture, just to get a good picture onto your blog. :) Hey, I only had so much time to put this together before his parents took us out for dinner….

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today!

Most importantly, love every day! Say the words, appreciate who your significant other is, and smile when they look at you. Be forgiving and understanding. Work through anything. When you wake up and find that you’ve been together for more than six years, it’s a good feeling. Nothing can quite compare.

Happy Birthday, Lou!!!!