Quick hairdos for the busy woman

Unlike some people (ahem, my sisters and best friend), my hair is not the type that I can roll out of bed, pull a brush through it and it looks phenomenal. Nope. I have been blessed with a very thick, heavy, wavy mane, and it can get pretty unruly at times. I love my hair, but when I roll out of bed, I have a serious case of bedhead that a brush can’t tame on its own. I’m a major procrastinator to begin with, so having to get someone else in the morning besides myself has been a learning process. Oliver is usually pretty happy in the morning and easily entertained, but taking 20 to 30 minutes to fix my hair isn’t usually an option these days. Besides throwing my hair up in a messy bun or top knot — which I do a lot — I have a few other go-to styles that are quick and easy for any woman who is short on time.

Note: I have pretty long hair, but these styles should work for anyone with shoulder-length and longer hair.

  • Side-twist braid or bun — If you can French braid, you can do this. If you can’t French braid, I bet you can still do this. I comb all of my hair to one side of my head (typically the left). Grab two pieces of hair at the top of your head and twist them together one time. Pick up more hair to add to each piece, twist again. Continue this until the twist reaches behind your ear. Gather the remaining hair at the nape of your neck and begin braiding it with the two other pieces. Fasten the braid with a hairband. This may take a little practice to get the twist down, but once you do, it’s fast and simple. To change it up, once you completed the braid, twist your hair into a bun behind your ear/at the nape of your neck. This is what the finished, braided style looks like:
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  • Overnight waves — I just recently discovered this pin on Pinterest, and wanted to give some of the tips a try. If you are looking for a way to get easy waves in your hair without using a blow dryer, give this a try. (Note: Do this at night before bed. This works well for me as I have wavy hair.) After washing your hair, scrunch it dry with a towel. After towel drying, don’t brush your hair. Instead, apply a curl cream to your. I like Tresemme Flawless Curls Hydration Lotion Creme. After applying the cream, pull your hair up into a loose bun as close to your hairline as possible. Sleep with your hair like this overnight. In the morning, take your hair out of the bun. It may be a little damp still, so let it air dry. Your hair should have pretty curls/waves! This is how mine looks after doing this:
    hairI’ve also wanted to try “plopping” to get curls without using heat. Click here to see how to “plop” your hair.
  • Sock bun — I always thought this sounded so weird, but it seems to have gotten pretty popular over the last few years. If you are looking for a fuller, bigger bun, try this out. Find a sock that is close to your hair color (I use black or brown), cut off the toe and roll the sock up so it looks like a doughnut. Put your hair up in a ponytail. Starting at the end of your hair, begin rolling the sock toward your head so your hair wraps around it. Continue until all your hair is wrapped into a bun. It may be a little loose, so secure it tightly with bobby pins. Check out this site for a visual tutorial. I love pretty headbands, and I think a bedazzled headband is a great way to jazz up any updo.
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  • Miniature bun — I noticed during my maternity leave I was wearing my hair up in a sloppy bun almost every day. I wanted to give it a break and at least have some of it down. Enter the mini bun! It’s easy, it’s cute, it gets my hair out of my face and looks decent when I really only want to put about three minutes into fixing my mane. Basically, pull up half your hair into a ponytail and fasten with a hairband. Twist the pony into a bun or messy bun, secure with a hairband (and bobby pins, if needed) and voila! You’re set. 🙂

When I have the time, I still like to straighten or diffuse my hair for curls. But most days, I just don’t have the time or the energy for that. A few other go-to hairstyles for me are French or Dutch braids down the center of my head or off to the side. There are a million tutorials out there for this kind of braiding, but here is a site with a few different photo tutorials.

What are some of your easy, go-to hairstyles?

* I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Newborn items for newbie parents

I think I can safely speak for many new moms when I say how overwhelming it is to start preparing your home for a baby. There are so many items you need, and if you are like me, you have no idea where to start! Obviously, there are the essentials, but there are a few items we received or purchased that I didn’t think we would need, and they are now my favorite things! As I have come to discover, every baby is very different. An item my sisters’ babies loved, Oliver didn’t. An item Oliver loved, my sisters never used. It just all depends on what works best for you and your tyke.

  • Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Miracle Brett was super excited about carrying Oliver in a front pack. To me, it looked terrifying. What if I didn’t get him in there right and he fell out or I suffocate him? I was hesitant to try it. But after a few weeks at home, I was wanting to get a few things done around the house and possibly walk on the treadmill for a while. I pulled out the baby carrier, strapped it on and gently placed my baby in it. He loved it! After about 10 minutes of wearing it, he usually would fall asleep. I wore it around the house, on walks and even for an easy hike near our house.

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    Oliver and I rocking the Baby Bjorn on a hike.

  • Baby Brezza Formula Pro One Step Bottle Maker – For anyone who gives their baby formula, this is a lifesaver. When our little guy is hungry, he is ready for dinner right now, and he will let you know that. This nifty device makes a bottle with the perfect amount and temperature in less than 30 seconds. And it’s wonderful for parents waking up for feedings at 4 a.m. It’s a little pricey, but definitely worth the expense.
  • Fisher-Price Deluxe Take Along Swing and Seat – When we registered for baby items, I received a lot of advice about what other moms loved and loathed. Many suggested getting a bouncy chair over the swing, but every baby has their personal preference. When Oliver was a newborn, he didn’t like the bouncy chair we received. He would sit in it for a few minutes before he started to get upset. Brett bought this swing, thinking he might like it better. Place him in the swing, and he usually stays conked out for a couple hours. Hallelujah! Oliver’s daycare has a swing that is similar to this that he naps in frequently – we’re talking three-hour naps! The kid loves swinging. 🙂
  • Eddie Bauer Slumber & Soothe Infant Baby Newborn Rocker Sleeper – My sister recommended we get a rock ‘n play for the baby to sleep in for the first few months of life. If Oliver is sleeping, he is usually either in a rock ‘n play or a swing (both at home and at daycare). I love this particular choice because it’s gender neutral (for future little ones), you can easily clean the pad the baby lies on by just throwing it in the wash and it vibrates!

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    Look how happy he is in his rock ‘n play! 🙂

  • Cloth diapers as burp cloths. My mom suggested this to me before we had Oliver, and I thought it sounded weird. I went ahead and bought cute, patterned burp cloths. We didn’t have quite enough, so I decided to try cloth diapers, too. As far as burp cloths go, they are our favorite. They are wider than the burp cloths and are super absorbent. Always listen to Mom!
  • Fisher Price 4-in-1 Sling N Seat Tub. I swear I registered for three different tubs before finally getting this one. And it was the right choice for us! The sling for newborns is wonderful, so they can lay in the tub without flopping over or sinking into the water. It also adapts as your baby grows so they can lay in the tub and sit in the seat. We love it.
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    These are just a few of the items that we loved for our newborn, and many of the items we continue to use for our four-month-old. What are items you couldn’t live without when parenting a newborn?

* I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

We’re moving home!

Ever since having Oliver, I have thought a lot about the type of childhood I want him to have and how I want him to be raised. He will always have Wyoming as his birthplace, but for his parents, Wyoming isn’t “home.” Before starting a family, Brett and I talked about returning to our home state of Nebraska. Maybe Lincoln, maybe Omaha; areas where we would still be “home” and where Brett could transfer to with his job at Target.

Yet once our son arrived, it was bliss to have our families around to not only help us when we needed it, but to dote and love on our little boy. I loved being able to visit my grandparents when I was little. My childhood is filled with memories of playing at their house, splashing around in the lake they lived by, having them attend all our big events and spending almost every holiday together. I still get excited when we get to go to their house to see them. I don’t know a life without them in it, and I want that for Oliver.

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My grandma, my mom and me. Two of my favorite ladies. 🙂

For us, home is close to our family. Whether it was in central Nebraska or in the panhandle, I was perfectly happy at the thought of living in either place. Since leaving that part of the state when I was 18, I never thought I would consider moving back. It’s funny how being a parent can change your whole perspective on life. 🙂

I began to help Brett look for jobs either close to his family or mine. When an opportunity arose, I gave Brett all the details and he began the process of applying for a new job. Soon enough, he was offered the position, and we made the decision to move our family to Holdrege, Nebraska.

I grew up as a farm girl, and I attended school in a town with a population of about 1,500. But since attending college, I didn’t think I would go back to living in a small town. I liked living in larger towns with the convenience of stopping at Target or Starbucks whenever I wanted. Now that I’m older with a family of my own, I’m so excited to live in and be a part of a small community. I want to know my neighbors and take part in small-town happenings. I want to know and be friends with the parents of Oliver’s friends. I want him to play T-ball in the summer, ride his bike around our neighborhood, splash around at the local swimming pool and maybe even take part in 4-H. I want him to go to a small school with small class sizes and where his best friend from kindergarten could still be his best friend senior year. I want him to grow up with his family surrounding him and to have those childhood memories I treasure. If I can give him as wonderful of a childhood as I had, I know I will have done something right.

My first Mother’s Day

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I look tired, but I love this picture of my baby and me. 🙂

Brett, Oliver and I celebrated my first Mother’s Day this weekend. It was simple, low-key and exactly what I wanted. And Brett had the weekend off, which made it even better!

When I got off work Friday, Brett had two cards and my favorite chocolate (Lindt truffles) waiting for me. It was super cute, and his card explained that he set up an appointment for me the following day to get a manicure and pedicure. I was super excited about that! I had been wanting to get a pedicure for a while, but just hadn’t found the time or reason to go.

Brett hadn’t had the best day, and I got off work later than I had planned, so we ended up grabbing Qdoba for supper. I was hoping we could get Oliver to bed early enough that Brett and I could watch a movie together, but my plans didn’t pan out. Oliver has been doing really well at getting to bed for the night around 8 or 8:30. We gave him a bath and got him ready for bed, but the little man wasn’t ready for sleep apparently. By the time we got him to sleep around 9:15, Brett and I were both ready to call it a night. I attempted to stay up for a bit to read, but ended up conking out pretty quickly.

I slept until 7:45 on Saturday (my husband is awesome and wakes up with the little guy when he is home). Brett grabbed us coffee, and we hung out at home before I left for my mani and pedi. I was weirdly nervous for my appointment. I usually go with a friend or family member, so I felt a little awkward by myself. I did feel a little awkward, but it was nice to have some relaxing time away and walk out with pretty hands and feet. 🙂

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My pretty manicure! 

On my way home, I grabbed us more coffee (a much-needed part of life nowadays) and we prepared for a trip to the mall and Target. Normally, it doesn’t take too long to get out of the house if we time it right. Once again, our plans didn’t quite work out. Oliver had just fallen asleep when I got home, so we waited for him to wake up. After a nap, a diaper change, a bottle and another diaper change, we were ready to go! An hour after we had hoped. Oh well!

During our excursion, Oliver fell asleep in the car and slept the whole time we were out! I love having him out and about so he can see new sights, but it was also nice to stroll through the mall and Target without worrying about him getting fussy or hungry. We grabbed Jimmy John’s for supper and made it home just as Ollie woke up from his long nap. We settled in to watch one of my favorite shows, “Outlander.” After the show, we got Oliver to bed and we went the same direction. The exciting life of new parents. 🙂

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I got to sleep in! Until 9 a.m.! I haven’t had the chance to sleep in that late for a while. It was glorious. When I woke up, Brett ran and grabbed us coffee and breakfast. Oliver took a long night, so Brett and I lounged, had lunch together and watched Netflix. After a very rainy past few days, the sun finally came out in the afternoon. I got outside to pull some weeds, and we bundled up Ollie and went for a short walk.

Brett offered to make me whatever I wanted for supper, and the only thing that sounded good was tacos. I’m easy to please. 😉 Ollie snoozed on Brett while we watched “Game of Thrones,” and then we were all off to bed early!

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Too cute! 

As a mom of a new baby, I have come to realize that nothing really goes according to your plan. As hard as we try to make it work and get out of the house in a timely fashion, a hungry baby with a poopy diaper always needs to be taken care of first. I do miss the days of just dropping everything and being able to get out the door, but these days of Oliver being little are so fleeting. I would much rather just hang out at home listening to his adorable babbling, spending time cuddling him and getting some time to just hang out with my husband. It’s all I really need. 🙂

Waiting for something great

I have always wanted to be a mom, but as I grew up, I was OK with waiting for this point of my life to come. My husband was ready to have kids the moment we got married, but I wasn’t on that boat yet. I wanted it to be just me and him for a while. Plus, I wasn’t completely naive. I knew having a baby is wonderful and fulfilling, but is also a huge challenge – a challenge I was waiting to put on the back burner for a while. I wanted to travel together, go on spontaneous weekend adventures, sleep in until 11 a.m., stay up late, adopt pets and spoil them rotten, and just be young newlyweds for a while. And we did just that.

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Brett and I on a weekend adventure in Kansas City not long after we were married.  

I wasn’t sure when the urge to have a baby would happen. But it did. After a trip to the Outer Banks with my parents and my sister’s little family in the fall of 2014, I was ready for Brett and I to take that leap into parenthood. I was mistaken for my niece’s mom while walking on the beach with her, and I felt no desire to correct that person. If anything, it made my heart swell and made me want to be someone’s mom. I was ready to stop waiting and to begin the next chapter of our lives as parents.

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This cutie pie brought out my baby fever! 

But at this time last year, I wasn’t quite sure I would ever get to celebrate Mother’s Day as a mom. I’m not a person who has a lot of patience. When I want something, I will do whatever it takes to make it happen. When things weren’t moving along the way I had hoped, I was told by my doctor to wait. Even though I was more than ready, my body was a few steps behind. I had to wait and hopefully it would catch up. That left me frustrated. And mad. And pretty darn sad.

About a month after Mother’s Day, my doctor decided I had waited long enough and had me do some blood tests. Soon after, she told me I had polycystic ovarian syndrome. While being diagnosed with PCOS was scary, I finally felt at peace. There was a name for it, and we had a plan of action. I didn’t know what to expect, but I heard promising stories from several women I know that had happy endings. So maybe it would take us a little longer; that just meant more time for Brett and I to enjoy time as just us. At least that’s how I was trying to look at it. I still had many moments of anger, fear, worry and sadness, and I didn’t want to wait anymore. I worried that I would never know what it’s like to be a mom, or worst of all, my husband, who so desired to be a dad, would never get that experience. I know that no matter what, he would always love me and I could never let him down. Yet, I prayed that one day I would see this man become a father. He deserved that more than anyone I know. More waiting would be involved, but we knew it would be worth it. We began our journey to what we would hope be a happy outcome. Little did we know, that outcome would be here sooner than we expected. The exact same month I began taking medicine to help us start a family, Brett and I found out we were expecting a baby. In February 2016, the wait – that wasn’t so long after all – was over. Brett and I became parents to our precious baby boy.

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I can’t get enough of this boy! 

As I look into his beautiful face every morning, I know I was meant to wait for him. As I see my husband transform into this tender, caring, teddy bear of a father, I know he was meant to be this particular boy’s dad. I know I didn’t have to wait long, but I’m thankful now for that period of waiting. Sure, at the time it was frustrating and annoying and crappy, but without it, I wouldn’t have Oliver. I would wait a million lifetimes to have the chance to be this boy’s mom.

 

What motherhood has taught me

For two blissful months, I took time off from work and blogging to focus on being a mom. It was amazing and tiring, rewarding and terrifying. And I have learned so much about myself, about my husband and about this fascinating, adorable person we created.

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The last pregnant photo of me before having Oliver three days later. 

I learned that I’m stronger than I ever imagined. Bringing a little human into this world is hard work. I had read about labor and what to expect, but I don’t think you can ever really prepare yourself for the intensity of it. I made two trips to the hospital before I was admitted, thinking that I was going into labor. The first time I wasn’t even close. The second time I was a little bit closer, but still not enough for me to be admitted. So at 3 a.m. during that second visit, the nurse gave me a shot to help with the pain of contractions (it took the edge off for maybe two hours) and sent me home. By 9 a.m., I was miserable but I didn’t want to make another trip to the hospital just to be sent home. The good Lord must have been on my side because my doctor’s office called that morning to say my doctor would be available that day for me to come in to be induced, two days earlier than we had planned. By this point, the contractions brought me to my knees with their pain and intensity. I was more than ready to have this baby. I was pretty certain before giving birth that I would want an epidural, and I was more than ready for it by the time I got to the hospital. After having contractions that were so intense I was sobbing into my husband’s T-shirt, I was ready for some relief. And the epidural was bliss. The pain subsided and it made me really sleepy. I was able to get some rest before having to push. But just because you have an epidural doesn’t make pushing a baby out any easier. It’s still extremely difficult, tiring and painful. I was so grateful he arrived after only 20 minutes of pushing.

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One of our first family photos! 

I have always known I have an amazing husband, but during the most physically painful time of my life, he was exactly what I needed and did everything right. He rubbed my back, made sure I had everything I needed to be as comfortable as possible, talked me through each contraction, held me when the pain was so intense I couldn’t speak and coached me through the most physically-demanding part: pushing our kid out. He was patient, gentle, caring and sweet. Looking back on that day, I love remembering how he cared for me and never left my side for a moment. I’m so grateful to have a person who is my rock and provides me with exactly what I need during the most challenging parts of life.

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I could stare at this boy all day long. 🙂 

I learned that I do have maternal instincts, and they kicked in pretty quickly. I have nieces and nephews, so I have been around babies. But I have never been the one providing 24/7 care, and I was a little worried before having Oliver that I wasn’t going to know what to do when I had a baby of my own. While I think I was in shock when he was first placed on my chest, I couldn’t let him go. It was a strange and bewildering feeling to have this person that I had been wondering about for nine months suddenly just be right in front of me. But as each moment passed, I felt a bigger and more intense love for this little person. I was cooing over him and would immediately be at his side the moment he’d let out a screech. Things I thought would be scary like giving him a bath, soothing him when he was upset and caring for him at all hours actually came to me pretty easily. Granted, it’s never easy or fun to wake up every two hours at night, but thankfully Brett and I worked together and we have had a lot of help.

I have learned to stick to my guns and do what I feel is best for my son. I was always on the fence about breastfeeding. I just didn’t know if it was something I would want to do, but I didn’t want to rule it out. I decided I would give it a try, and if it worked for me and Oliver, great. So I gave it a try, but I never felt very comfortable doing it. I didn’t want to give up, but I started to worry when Oliver lost over a pound two days after birth. Our doctor said that was pretty normal, and he would gain it back. So we carried on until that night when this tiny little being screamed for over an hour and couldn’t seem to latch. I called the hospital to get some advice, but finally I broke down and decided to give him a bottle of formula. He guzzled that bottle like there was no tomorrow. He immediately returned to his calm, content self, and I gave up breastfeeding. I could question myself all day about how maybe I should have tried harder or maybe I should have pumped, etc., but I’m not going to do that. I did what I believed to be best for my baby and for me. And he is happy, healthy and growing like a weed.

And most of all, I have learned motherhood is all it’s cracked up to be. I was told over and over how it’s the most challenging but most rewarding role a woman will ever have. I have only been a mom for two months, but I can’t imagine my life any other way. There are definitely days where I miss sleeping in and spending my Saturdays lounging around with my hubby, but when I creep into my kiddo’s room and see the gigantic smile he has for me, that all melts away. Watching him grow and develop a spunky personality fills my heart with so much joy. Plus, there is truly nothing better than baby snuggles and giggles. 🙂

A weekend together

Weekends where it’s just Brett and me, with no visitors, no travel plans, etc., are few and far between. Brett works in retail, and he works every other weekend. We typically schedule visits from family and friends and weekend getaways around his schedule, so there are many weekends where we are away from home or are entertaining guests. I love traveling and having visitors, but when it’s just the two of us, it’s blissful.

But very, very, very soon, it’s no longer going to be just me and my hubby. We will have another member of our little family, and I know our time alone together may be few and far between. Because this past weekend could potentially be the last one before the little guy arrives, we enjoyed every relaxing minute of it.

On Friday, I was really wanting to have a date night with my hubby, but I had been in a weird funk all day. I was extremely tired in the morning, and my legs were aching for most of the day. Brett and I had a spur-of-the-moment lunch together. The yummy Chinese food and seeing my guy definitely helped perk me up. But spending the evening at home sounded way better than being hangry at a busy restaurant and trying to rush to a 7 p.m. move. Yes, we are no longer capable of staying awake through the late show.

We wound up ordering appetizers from a local bar/restaurant – they were pretty terrible – and curled up on the couch with the dogs to watch “The Intern.” I was really excited for this movie, but it was disappointing. It started off really well, but then it began to drag toward the end and fell into cliches.

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The cute view I had while watching a movie Friday night. 🙂

On Saturday, we slept in as late as our dogs would let us (8:30, so not bad) and lounged around for most of the morning. Brett made a Starbucks run, I watched a pretty silly movie, “Another Me,” while Brett played video games. Before we left the house, one of the final pieces for Oliver’s room – his rocket lamp – arrived on our doorstep. I couldn’t wait to see it, so we got it out of the box and set it up. It’s so adorable!

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I love how this stand in Oliver’s room has come together!

We decided to see a late-afternoon matinee that day, so we splurged on a big lunch at Red Lobster. It had been a while since we had actually been on a date, and it was nice being able to talk, laugh and share our food. After lunch, we went to the mall where we did some birthday shopping for our nieces and picked up a few random items at Target.

After a quick stop at home, we headed to the theater to see “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” I love both film and literary versions of “Pride and Prejudice.” I tried to read “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” but I just couldn’t get into it. I was convinced I would like it better in the film version, and I was right. The actors and action were great, and there were way more comedic moments than I was expecting. Plus, Brett and I are huge fans of “Doctor Who,” and our favorite doctor, Matt Smith, did a fantastic job as Mr. Collins. I couldn’t stop giggling every time he was on the screen.

With a big lunch and movie theater snacks settling in our bellies, neither one of us were very hungry for supper. Nothing on TV sounded appealing to watch, and we spent a good hour trying to figure out not only what we wanted to eat but what to do with the rest of our night. I wound up munching on chips and salsa and Brett ate cereal while we watched “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Not too shabby at all. 🙂

I woke up at 8 a.m. Sunday, and after eating some breakfast, I still felt pretty groggy. I went back to bed and ended up sleeping another two hours. It was glorious!

Once I got up, I did a little cleaning around the house, Brett and I had lunch at Qdoba and we did some grocery shopping. I cleaned my car out when we got home, and began reading a new book, “At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen.  It’s not quite what I was expecting, but it’s pretty good so far!

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There was a lot of cuddling happening at our house over the weekend. 🙂

Since our appetizers on Friday were less than appealing, Brett decided to try his hand at making his own for supper on Sunday. He made a cheesy bean dip, cheeseburger sliders and loaded potato skins. I should have just made him cook on Friday because it was so delicious!

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This photo does not do Brett’s cooking justice. So yummy! 

Now you would probably assume we ate these while watching the Super Bowl, but if you know us, that is definitely not what we did. Neither one us are sports aficionados, so like every year before this, we did not tune in. Instead, we found a new show on Hulu that we both enjoyed, “You, Me and the Apocalypse.” We are huge fans of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” and there are actors from both shows on this new program. It’s wacky and funny, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

To some, our weekend seemed pretty low-key, maybe even boring. But for us, it was a weekend we always enjoy having together. We did our typical, good-natured bickering before lunch on Saturday because we were both hangry and like to tease each other. We got to relax and indulge in our favorite pastimes: reading for me, video games for Brett and watching our favorite shows together. It was quiet and relaxing and exactly what we needed.