Family · Parenting · Perspective

Finding the Bright Spot

This is one of those weeks my husband/ business partner/ other-half-for-all-things-in-life is gone. 8 whole days. Because we work together, it is actually rather lonely without him here in the office – if I had time to be lonely.

His job responsibilities don’t end, they “transfer” to my desk.

Carpool and kids don’t magically pause.

Where is my laundry fairy and dish diva???? Doesn’t she know I could use her wand to help keep up?

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Where did my breakfast buddy go? He usually gets the kids breakfast and feeds the cat while I finish getting ready – Hello cereal, lean pockets, and I’m not ashamed to admit… gummy worms for bribery for a smoother morning.

We FaceTimed with him this morning. He got to witness our daughter spill her bowl of cereal all over her brother’s arm. It was good. I think it made him smile to see life being normal here. Completely and chaotically normal.

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In addition to the bright spot that is FaceTime (#1), I also have a “ginormous” (in the words of my 4yr old) appreciation for my father-in-law. Bright spot #2: Twice this week he has prepped and brought me a sandwich for lunch. PB&J on toast on Monday and turkey with mayo/mustard today. Simple things mean so much!

Third bright spot: I am ridiculously productive around the house without anyone to hang out with in the evening. After the kids go down, I hit my to-do list hard! Better than being lonely in front of the TV.

When does he come home???? Although productive, enjoying FaceTime, and appreciating my father-in-law, I am counting down the days… He’s a keeper.

Love · Perspective

Orlando

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What a beautiful whirlwind trip! First I have to thank all my family, bio and in-law, for adding my littles to their lives for a few days. They also encouraged me to relax and enjoy this trip… which was necessary as it is the third of four weekends I was out-of-state in February. By the time I touched down at the end of our 5 days, I was thoroughly convinced life needs to change.

Day 1: On the first of two flights, I sat across from a nice young lady headed for San Antonio, TX. The winds were strong on both take-off and landing and we simultaneously gripped our armrests. A quick jog thru Houston and then some seat shifting… I ended up getting to sit with my husband and a nice older man from Southern California. We chatted about various topics until we parted upon landing in Orlando. I’ve heard that is something only Midwest people do. We strike up conversations with absolute strangers and expect them to talk with us.

Fast forward thru the chaos of Orlando baggage claim… and getting our rental car… and not being sure how to turn the headlights on or dim them in said rental car at 10pm while pulling onto a busy highway… 

We’ll brush past 10-15 minutes of waiting at the four star resort/ hotel/ timeshare in line to check-in for our room that was supposed to be a nice suite, but ended up being a small room with 1980’s decor, a wall of mirrors, and fluorescent lighting with a 2-3 minute delay after you flipped the switch with two full-sized beds… but it was clean. So I’ll give them that… 

(Although we were promised a suite on Sunday, the hotel never came thru with that offer. Oh well! We weren’t in the room for much more than showers and sleep anyway.)

Our bellhop was amazing. I believe his name was Fadi. He looked to be about 20yrs old. Very helpful. Very knowledgeable. And bless his heart, he tried to get the room situation straightened out. Didn’t happen, but he gets huge bonus points for trying. He also provided us with a pizza delivery service number that would deliver until midnight, which was good since it was 11pm before we got to our room. 

Day 2: We skipped breakfast and slept. Our first stop was for an early lunch at Gator’s Dockside. I ate alligator tail! It was delicious. Honestly. As we joke in the midwimg_0566est, it “tastes like chicken.” After a tasty lunch paired with an excellent mojito, the hubs and I decided to explore the southern part of Orlando, Kissimmee, and St. Cloud. 

It was like we were dating again. Jokes. Flirting. Free flowing laughter. Hand holding <– This is rare in our relationship.

Unplanned stops. Spontaneous and easy. But honestly, how did we travel before GPS???

Our ultimate goal for the day was a bowfishing trip on Lake Tohopekaliga. We are both novices at bowfishing but I’m usually up for anything that doesn’t involve claustrophobia. Riding on an air boat was also on my bucket list. Check it off!

It was a gorgeous evening on the lake. Our target was tilapia. Any tilapia we got were already spoken for by some locals (we didn’t want to freeze them and ship home). Any other fish like the gar or chub were quickly enjoyed by all the gators swimming around the lake. It was a fabulous evening and we were fairly successful for first time bowfishers.

Day 3: SeaWorld. I’ve been once before in San Antonio. Neither of us are much for amusement parks or themed anything, so Orlando is kind of a stretch in terms of entertainment. Fortunately, SeaWorld isn’t all just rollercoasters and rides. We took the time to see every single animal there. The guilty feeling was thick because we were doing this without the kids.

After cleaning ourselves up following miles upon miles of walking and multiple sunscreen applications at SeaWorld, he took me out for an extremely nice dinner. Cloth napkins. Cloth tablecloths. Salad forks. The works. Our children would not have eaten a single thing at that restaurant. And amazingly, I’m not sure we even talked about the kids at the table that night! It was all him and I conversations. We have so much more in common than just children. After almost 15+ years together, I love that we can still connect like that.

Day 4: The ARA Rental Show at Orlando Convention Center. Over 600 booths. That was our main goal for going to Orlando. We stopped at booths and checked out equipment for four hours. It was very educational for me.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not followed by dinner at Chuy’s topped off the day. 

Day 5: 2am CT/ 3am ET. That’s what time we got up. Oh Mylanta! Our rental car had to be returned to the airport after a 30 minute drive. Who knew the airport was a special kind of crazy that early in the morning??? Props to the Orlando International Airport and those hard-working people for United Airlines. They were hustling, assisting, and moving people in a pace that upon reflection, was incredible efficiency. We were thru the check-in process, baggage check and security in only 40-45 minutes.

Have I mentioned that going through airline security is a humbling experience? It puts EVERYBODY on the same playing field. Everybody is shoe-less. Everybody is arms up and imagescanned. I’ve been patted down and my bag dug around in. It doesn’t matter if you a glittering with diamonds and carrying a $1000 bag or wearing a worn out backpack with flip flops on. Everybody has to go thru security.

I’m good with it. Pat me down. Ask me questions. Root around in my stuff. Remember that fear I have of flying? I want everybody to land safe and sound. And honestly, after having babies, there isn’t anything you are going to see on that scanner that half a room full of people at the hospital didn’t already witness…

Reading Material for the Trip: I finished the book “Present over Perfect” on the trip. We were literally landing on our last flight as I read the last page. Present over Perfect. What a sea change! 

For most of this book, I shook my head in shame. It was like she was reading my internal thoughts. On this trip, I decided to be completely present with my husband. Perfect? Not even close to possible, but present. Absolutely. I’m so glad I did.

Now it’s time to start practicing it at home and with my friends. I’m starting by saying no to something going on tomorrow and yes to an invite that means hospitality. Not perfection.

Welcome. There will be dust on the floor and cups in the sink. Come on in.

 

Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

The Scientist – Dating my Husband

One of my favorite songs the past few weeks is “The Scientist” by Coldplay. It came out over a decade ago, but recently it caught my ear. It’s easy to sing. I enjoy the minor tones. And I love the message that I take from it:

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start

I’m not sure if I’m taking the written message the right way, but to me it’s all about making that connection. Making the EFFORT to make that connection

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

We’ve been together since 2000. My oh my. That does seem like ages ago.

I was starting my senior year of high school. He was starting his sophomore year of college. Our dates consisted of Messenger chats and him coming back to my high school for my sporting events and a few hours of time together after they were done.

I did go on a date with someone else in college. I wanted to test the waters. See if I wanted to keep doing the long-term thing or date other people. It was a resounding “I don’t want to date anyone else” moment by the end of that night. I knew how good I had it. My husband was and is a keeper.

Fast forward almost 17 years. We’ve been married for 11.5 years. We’ve grown up and learned strengths, weaknesses, and held each other when it hurt. There’ve been fights and  frustration. Moments where a drive alone was necessary.

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh, and I rush to the start

And we keep coming back together to figure it all out.

Dating each other is important. Me giggling on the couch. The way he laughs when something funny catches him off-guard. Real time together. Snippets of time in the kitchen alone without the kids. Flirting. That arm slipping around me while I’m washing the dishes after dinner.

Asking those questions that neither of us really want to, but know we need to. Then working through the answer.

Raising our children together.

Running in circles
Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start

I don’t want this to sound like we are struggling. We are deeply happy. But to stay that way, we have to keep going back to how we connected. To keep that passion and interest in each other- Ask what he’s reading. Give a little pat as I pass by. Keep dating each other.

Keep going back to the start.

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Family · Perspective

Valentine’s Day

We’ve rolled into February. On January 30, I nearly had an anxiety attack looking at the schedule for this month. I fended it off with a quick two mile run after I dropped the kids off at school. Just. Breathe.

February – Groundhog Day Treats at School – Two Saturday mornings of basketball – My 6m Check-Up at the Neurologist which requires 15hrs of driving roundtrip for 30 minutes in the clinic- Wedding in Fayetteville, AR – Trip for work to Orlando, FL – Kids – Work – Carpool…

And Valentine’s Day?

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I’m being bombarded by ads of women in sexy lingerie and gifts shaped like hearts while sappy songs about mushy smushy love serenade me on the radio. Bleh.

I’m truly happy for people who love Valentine’s Day. It’s never really been our thing. Even when we were still dating we didn’t really DO Valentine’s Day. I did not marry this man who I love passionately for his level of romance.

College Valentine’s Day on year 3 of dating (2004) – Wendy’s d2zedifh1n0ecqk4Drive Thru, couch at the Hartford St. rental house, Cops on TV. Nothing says romance quite like a $0.99 carton of chicken nuggets! Mushy type of love? Not so much. It does make a humorous story that made me roll my eyes then and makes me smile now.

In my younger adolescent years, I dreamed of getting flowers just “because’ but I found that not really a reality. I’m not excited about gifts.

I thought I wanted a guy to go to Rom-Com movies with me. Honestly, my sisters and girlfriends are better company for that!

And if I’m being honest, I don’t really like things that are heart-shaped for myself. I’ll draw that shape all over pictures for my kids, but for me, nah.

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In my reality, what I enjoy is a spontaneous night out – even if it is just for groceries and dinner sans kids. I won’t go into intimate details – the world wide web isn’t a private place to talk – but suffice it to say, I don’t need to be showered with extra love on 1 out of 365 days. We pay attention to each other and work through our less-than-stellar moments. He’s my best friend and I’m his. We enjoy being together.

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Will I get a card for Valentine’s Day? Maybe. It’ll be signed from him and the kids. I’ll get each of the kids a shiny helium-filled balloon for the day because those things are special moments for my kids. I might even drape myself in something ridiculous that sits in places that are inappropriate to talk about… or I might not. I’m doubtful that the date on the calendar will be the key red or green light for my husband. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be over-the-top or actually, any different than any other day.

After writing this all out, I’m going to drop Valentine’s Day from my list of stresses and concerns this year.

I’m choosing to focus on all the other days we have together and I’ll treat Valentine’s Day as just another day on the calendar. I’m sure I’ll channel surf right on past the mushy songs. I usually do. I’ll bypass the chocolates and ignore the air brushed awkward looking women in weird contorted positions wearing nothing but underwires and v-strings (Yes Vicky’s Secret… I saw that ad).

We’ll likely eat at home with our kids that night and talk and laugh about the day. We’ll address the issues as they come. As friends, husband and wife, parents and as a family, we will keep it simple. It works for us.

Family · Perspective

Socks on the Floor Pt 2

Yet again today, my news feed is blowing up… Why? Another blogger responded, rather angrily, with a post titled:

Nope. Don’t you dare call my wife a “butthole”

Again with the passive-aggressive distractions. Again with the divisiveness of people who declare they love Jesus, then get sidetracked into defending their honor or the honor of someone they know/love in a war of words over petty stuff.

This is like the mommy wars. Do you breastfeed? Do you bottle feed? Do you pump? Do you use oils? Do you do use coconut oil instead of vegetable oils? Does your child eat only organic? Does your child eat Cheetos off the floor of the car? Did you make your treats for school from scratch and decorate them in the appropriate holiday decor? Did you forget and send a bag of powdered sugar donuts that you picked up that morning? Use daycare? Work from home? Eat frosting from the can? *GASP*  Eat raw cookie dough???

Oh. My. Word.

Is this really what we are discussing? Why yes. I am. It is not to defend either side. Everybody get your panties or boxers or briefs or whatever covers you up out of a bind and look at the bigger picture.

Do you honor your spouse with your words? Do you honor your spouse with your actions? Do you try to honor God with the way you are interacting with those around you – including family? Think long and hard about those questions. It’s the knee-jerk reactions that are causing this to build up into a dividing wall of pride.

I believe that each and every being on this earth has individual talents and strengths.  I haven’t read anything that says a woman is “less than or more than” for her choice of occupation: at home- in the workplace – or anywhere in between. Reflectively, I don’t read it that way for a man either.

You do you in a manner that honors yourself, your family, and God.

I also believe that while we all seek love and attachment, we accept it in different ways. Working to support a family in any capacity is a labor of love, be it in or out of the home. I’d rather have a husband who helps support the family than one who buys me gifts- any odd day of the week. He’d rather have a wife who wants to sit and talk with him than one who feels the need to have a spotless house- any odd day of the week.

That’s simply us. Other couples are different and that is great. They fill their bucket with love in other ways that suit their strengths and talents.

So let’s all calm down just a bit… maybe remove the word “butthole” from the conversation if it seems offensive and put this in perspective? My overall point goes back to what I said yesterday. These slight mundane things, these words other people are writing and we are reading, they don’t matter in the big picture. My life is different than your life which is different than the next person’s life.

What is important is how YOU are living these moments. 

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

Faith · Family · Health · Love · Perspective

Socks on the Floor

I read a woman’s journal entry today on her site. It is titled “Stop Being a Butthole Wife.” It was blowing up on Facebook news feed. Most of my friends are young wives or husbands. Many have children. It fits for where we are in life.

It is obvious by the number of times it has been shared that it touched a nerve. So here’s my perspective on relationships and what I took from her writing:

  • I can’t even fathom what it means to lose a spouse. I don’t think devastated is a deep enough word for that level of hurt. My husband and I joke about who would be on our “list” if something ever happened to one of us. Honestly, it ends up being a humorous analysis and conversation. At the root of it all is the FACT that he would want me to be happy and move on if he was no longer alive. I reciprocate that sentiment.
  • All those little nitpicky things like socks on the floor, his belt and pocket contents on our kitchen counter, and his mug next to his chair where he ate graham crackers and milk before bed – TINY inconsequential occurrences. These really don’t matter in the panoramic view of our life together. That I know they exist feels comfortable to me. This is his house too. He rarely comments about my bra hanging on the bathroom doorknob and when he does, it’s because company is coming… We try to extend grace to one another.
  • There is so much beauty in a committed relationship. We submit to each other daily thousands of times a day. Why do you always have to be right? You don’t. A huge weight is removed once you confidently are able to recognize that. Do we agree all the time? No, we aren’t playing make-believe house. Disagreeing is healthy. It means we both have a voice. It allows us to maintain ourselves as individuals.
  • I ordered flowers for two different funerals today. My nephew had brain cancer at 18 months and is now a healthy 9 year old. My dad had cancer twice – stage 4 the 2nd time. He is 5 years with no detectable cancer now. We lost my mother-in-law at age 54 two years ago in March to a sudden brain bleed. The innocent get sick. We are helpless to fix it. Those we love pass away.

People – socks on the floor don’t matter.

Maybe I’m writing this because I learned a number of years ago that perfection isn’t possible. I was a perfectionist until I united my life with my husband’s 11 years ago. I was a butthole wife at that point. Young. Naive. Ridiculous. Trying to make my life pinterest-perfect. We’ve had this conversation. I’m still a work in progress, but I know we are in this together for the long haul.

I’ll keep picking up those socks and he’ll keep reminding me about my bra on the doorknob before our company walks in the door. It’s a partnership of love and grace. And it’s totally worth it.

Family · Love

5 Languages of Love

For those that read my post “Pioneer Women & Valentines” this is a bit of the backstory and, er, ummm, an explanation to explain a bit more about myself and my marriage.

Recently, my amazing younger sister (by 15 months), a dear college friend, and I took a girls day. We drove to the nearest true city an hour away and honestly had ZERO pressing plans for the day. Each of us had one different place to run an optional errand, but other than those 15 minutes of chores, our day was wide open. Do you have any idea how bizarre that feels to not have a purpose or a list of to-do’s for a trip to town?

We met halfway there and carpooled – hmm that term makes me sound like a fuddy duddy – let’s say ROADTRIPPED the rest of the way together. Man, have our conversation topics changed a bit since college! We got on the topic of how our hubbies felt about not having a purpose for driving all the way to S-town. It morphed into the Bible Study that PTad and her hubs are doing at their church. The 5 Love Languages. Have you heard of it? She encouraged us through our giggles to take the quiz with our husbands and compare results. More laughing ensued. The day was refreshing and awesome. PTad is one of those rare friends distance and life doesn’t rip apart. She has the joyful spirit that conversation when separated by weeks or sometimes even a month or two is smoothly picked right back up.

Back to the 5 Love Languages — I took advantage of 15 minutes at work a few weeks ago to take the quiz. I was surprised by my results. After I took the quiz, I requested Jon do it too. Also, surprising results.

The quiz has 5 different “love languages” that exist when interacting with your significant other. Words of Affirmation uses words to affirm or support another. Acts of Service are actions that seem to speak louder than words to support another. Receiving Gifts is pretty self explanatory: feeling loved by receiving items. Quality Time is giving undivided attention to your significant other. Physical Touch is receiving or giving an appropriate touch at the right time.

So my spouse thought, as did I, that physical touch would score off the charts for him. WRONG. There is more to touching than just intimacy. Hugs, hand holding, a hand on his shoulder are a few examples. As he took the quiz, he made sure to clarify that there wouldn’t be any extra hugs regardless of the quiz results. (I come from a very huggy family. We touch. We hug when we meet. We give kisses on the cheek when we leave a family function. Him, not so much. It has been a teachable thing in our marriage.)

I was a bit astonished when he said both options were ridiculous on one of the questions. Option 1 was something about going to the grocery store for your sig other. Option 2 was getting a pat on the back or something similar. Why would going to the store to help really be important? “For real!” was my reply. The glowing option for me would be going to the store. That would be huge! It would be like coming home to have the laundry (my arch nemesis) folded and put away. Acts of Service was something mid-range for me, but lower for him.

My lowest score – a 1 on a scale of 1-12 – was in Receiving Gifts. Other than for a few holidays, I consider physical items to just be stuff. If I want or need something, I will request it. As my husband knows, I don’t do that very often. Otherwise, I’m fine. A card or handwritten scrawl on a sticky note is good enough for me. Just verbal words of “I Love You” or “I know the kids stress you out, but I know you are doing the best you can” are an instant uplift. You guessed it – Words of Affirmation are a mid-range score for me.

What we both scored our highest on was Quality Time. We crave that time together. Just a dinner out without kids is important to us. Even an activity with kids is important for our family functionality. Taking that time to be a family, be a couple, be a person is imperative.

Marriage is a constantly evolving journey with natural highs and lows. Our journey pre-marriage was 5 awesome spontaneous college-filled years. Our voyage pre-children, post wedding was 5 more years of joy, travel, socializing, and whim. Traveling through life with two children has been a new chapter of learning by doing, loving, and adapting. We give thanks for our blessings and trials.

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You can find more about the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/