Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Time for a Date

Nestled between my early morning devotion time and heading out the door for a run, it hit me.

My husband and I haven’t been out (or in) together without kids since March.

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I know…. that is shocking!

Almost two months ago, we flew to Key West for a handful of days. I don’t think we’ve been anywhere without the little people we created, even for groceries and a burrito, since mid-March.

Time to get back on the same page…

Today I scheduled a 36hr getaway for us. We are going to see another couple for a Friday evening and Saturday a couple of weeks from now. What? You thought we’d be able to throw together something for this weekend?! That’s just crazy talk….

Honestly though, it is incredibly important to put that extra time into your relationship. It’s been lacking here. We’ve had a rough patch lately where I truly wanted to get in the car and drive away. Solo. Where? Who knows. Maybe just to go sit in a coffee shop or restaurant and read a book while I sip a chai latte (DF of course) or eat chips and salsa? I might even treat myself to a bowl of guacamole.

But I don’t drive away. I told him I wanted to. Yet I haven’t gotten in the car, removed the car seats, and made a break for it.

Why? A couple of reasons:

  • I genuinely like my crew of people – most of the time. Experience has taught me that it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy another human 100% of the time. I’m quite sure I would not enjoy my own clone 100% of the time…
  • I’m an introvert. Quiet time is necessary to recharge. Daily running and devotions need to become a priority again instead of snoozing the alarm and then needing space from my family later.
  • I love my husband. Even when we aren’t clicking and I’m not even sure we are speaking the same vernacular, we still have almost 18 years invested in our relationship. We’ll celebrate the 13yrs married mark this summer. Sometimes I wonder though… when I say something – what is he hearing???
  • I love who I am when we are in sync. Disharmonious as we are right now, we will find our rhythm again soon. We are better together. He lightens me. I focus him.
  • I’m flat-out terrible at self-care. When I make a cry for help like “Hey honey, I think I’ll just leave. No I don’t know where I’m going to go…” that’s pretty serious stuff. It needs to be addressed together. Instead of further isolating myself, I need to pull closer to that covenant I have with my husband and family.

What it boils down to is that it is time for a date. A real, fix-your-hair, put on a nice dress, lipstick instead of chapstick type of date. No talk of the kids’ baseball schedules, end-of-school year events, or that we are COMPLETELY out of all ingredients necessary to make breakfast. It is time for actual date talk about interests and plans and that amazing song I heard on the radio last week.

It’s time to reconnect and get back in sync.

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Family · Perspective

There’s a Blender in my Purse

giphy1Me. When my husband sprung it on me this morning: “We need to get to the office 30 minutes early. Let’s ride together.”

Ummm….. I haven’t brushed my hair or my teeth. I’m not wearing makeup. This will be a 10hr day at the office, so I need to pack a lunch or something edible.

But yes. Thank you. I am already wearing pants.giphy

Has he prepped anything for the day? Men have it so simple. He’s dressed with shoes and wearing his coat to walk out the door. “Where are your keys?”

I slide the keys across the floor while I simultaneously shove an entire blender and a banana in my oversized purse.

“You can either wait by the door or out in the truck, but I’m going to need a couple more minutes!” Irritation…

He starts to tap his shoe on the floor and does that ‘I’m waiting for you body posture.’

giphy2At this point, I literally stick a full-size carton of almond milk in my backpack. Running into the bathroom, I swipe my small makeup bag off the counter onto the carton of almond milk. Jogging back to the kitchen to pick up my oversized purse, I tell him to move it. “Let’s go!”

Five minutes and we are out the door. Man is he lucky that I love him or this might be tomorrow morning….

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Family · Parenting · Perspective

Avalanche!!!

Me. This past weekend.

giphy5Not for exercise. Due to my husband’s work schedule, I managed very little physical running.

I was mentally trying to run away. The past week has been absolutely suffocating- family, marriage, work, home-ownership. You name it.

These situations rarely materialize as an instantaneous big blob. Rather, it is a slow building process, like a snowball. Each snowflake contributes until you have a breaking point and this HUGE ROLLING avalanche comes flowing down and out.

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Ever see anything about an avalanche resolving in a positive manner? Me neither.

I’m usually not an avalanche girl. I usually address it as it comes: good, bad, or ugly. The month of August, it just didn’t seem like there was time to address anything.

  1. Work. Did I mention we are starting to farm on our own now too after normal business hours? (We are incredibly thankful and blessed to have this opportunity!)
  2. Husband gone to see family across the country for a week. This leaves me in charge of all things business and family.
  3. Me to Denver solo for my 6m MS check-in. Out and back in 36hrs. Praise – was moved to a yearly appt with blood and MRI in 6 months locally! Also saw my friend Abby’s new beautiful baby, Miss Sinclair. ❤
  4. Quick trip to KC as a crammed into the last weekend before school getaway. I met my friend Jess’s new little guy, Mr. Kevin, and played with her gorgeous little gingers. We also had dinner with another friend and her husband.
  5. School. Kids needed supplies. New routine that starts two hours earlier than our summer did. Parent’s night #1 with teacher #1. Parent’s night #2 with teacher #2. School is in full force mode now.
  6. Normal family functions – feeding my people, clean clothes, picking up the house, garden produce, playing with my kids (Barbies, farm, catch in the yard, bike rides, sprinklers) – Oh, and did I mention that our hot water heater blew out the top and was steaming our entire mechanical room? Fortunately, the sump pump kept up until we discovered it.
  7. Volunteer Responsibilities- Parent Teacher Organization Family Fun Night, Church Secretary & Children’s Church, Vacation Bible School Day Camp
  8. A nasty head cold and quite possible resurgence of mononucleosis in my exhausted body. I had all the symptoms, but didn’t do the blood test. Nothing they could recommend except rest and fluids anyway.
  9. et cetera et cetera et cetera….

The ball just kept rolling from one thing to the next. Pretty soon, all the little conversations that we needed to have to stay connected had just slipped past. Every turn felt like a new area of neglect.

If I’m cooking dinner, I’m missing out on playing catch. If I’m sitting down with my husband for the evening, I’m not getting the laundry done. If I take 30 minutes for a mind and soul clearing run, I’m skipping time I could be spending with my family.

It was a never-ending, always losing game of catch-up. It ended in a slouched pile of tears in the shower and an honest, raw conversation with my husband.

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I’m a puzzle that’s been missing a piece. Even as my missing piece, he still can’t read my mind. When I’ve managed to get it all done without help or complaint, how is he supposed to know that I need another hand or eye on a situation?

You’d think after 12 years that would be more than obvious. Honestly, I think it gets harder to see the longer you’ve been together. You are so trusting of the other person that everything just falls into that same groove. It sometimes takes a derailment to get back on the same page.

Every supply and note for school has been signed and sent on time. Every phone call at work has been returned promptly. Clean clothes for all. Food for meals done. I handled it all like a boss. Never asking for help or insinuating it wasn’t something I could handle. An exhausted, stressed, increasingly isolated boss.

Suffocating under the avalanche of missed connections wasn’t the way to survive the last month. Living on that lonely island isn’t necessary. Unless you ask for assistance, it isn’t apparent that you need it.

Ask for help. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Do it before the avalanche hits.

Much love,
Jen

 

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.