Life & Love

anni2016Last month my husband was part of a stealth operation. One of his friends wanted to propose to his longtime girlfriend and asked Nathan to provide the music. He chose a specific song – “Wanted”, by country singer Hunter Hayes. Nathan smirked the first time he heard it. “Seriously? Barf!” were his exact words.

We hung out the night before the proposal, three married couples and the dating one. All of the married couples split up on the couches, leaving one single beanbag chair for the lovebirds. “You guys sit there,” we joked. “You still like each other!”

The next afternoon Nathan covered himself in bug spray and hid in the bushes next to a walking trail. As the couple approached, he started to sing: “You know I’d fall apart without you. I don’t know how you do what you do. ‘Cause everything that don’t make sense about me makes sense when I’m with you …”

She said yes.

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Nathan and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary last week. The proposal reminded me of us at the beginning of our relationship. We were constantly touching, arms around each other, holding hands. I remember one camping trip where friends bet us we couldn’t complete a mountain hike holding hands – and we won!

Life looks different now. After being pulled this way and that by kids all day, with a clingy toddler in my arms, Nathan’s lucky if he gets any greeting when he gets home from work, never mind a hug or a kiss.

Love looks different now too. We don’t have the time or the energy or the money to go on extravagant (or frequent!) dates, so we collapse on the couch after the kids are in bed and my work is done for the day. We hold hands in the grocery store parking lot instead of on mountain trails. We may not snuggle at friends’ houses, but we have more than eight years’ worth of inside jokes and communicate better with each other than with anyone else. Though we still haven’t managed to successfully escape a Breakout room

Most days aren’t filled with the freshness and passion that mark a new relationship. We’re more comfortable. We’re established in who we are as a couple. We celebrated our first anniversary with a romantic weekend getaway; we celebrated our eighth anniversary with burgers and an hour and a half of uninterrupted Pokemon hunting.

Sometimes, I will admit, I miss the newness. I miss the romance of it all. My husband is certainly more practical than he is romantic – he’s the man who catches our kids’ puke in his hands on airplanes, not the one who painstakingly crafts 1000 origami paper cranes and gifts me his wish.

But I love him more because of the life we’ve created together. He’s the one who proposed on bended knee on a dock while wearing rollerblades, and he’s the one who stops at the store on his way home from work almost every single day because I’m missing one ingredient for the dinner I’ve already started to make.

Our marriage isn’t glamorous. Romantic getaways are few and far between at this stage of life. Instead we sway together, dancing in the kitchen while the sink fills with bubbles and our children try to sandwich themselves between us.

And I wouldn’t give up these everyday moments for all the romance in the world.

What I Learned in July

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One of my favourite writers, Emily P. Freeman, has been sharing what she’s learned each month on her blog for the past two years.  Some are silly, some are serious, and some are just plain useful!  I always enjoy reading her posts, so this month I decided to join her and share what I’ve learned in July:

  1. It’s important to count stitches when crocheting.  I started learning how to crochet a couple of months ago and I am horrible at remembering to count.  I’ve unravelled so many projects to start them over from the beginning  – just because I’m not paying attention.   Every row or two it’s also a good idea to take a step back and look at the project from a distance.  When you’re working up close it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.  Which is why I got three balls in on a blanket before I realized it was more a trapezoid than a rectangle.  Ugh.  I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere …
  2. More than I ever wanted to know about Pokemon!  Nathan downloaded the Pokemon Go app on his phone and I have never seen him walk or rollerblade or spend time outside as much as I have this past month.  (FYI: Rollerblading doesn’t work very well unless you go slowly.  Otherwise you move too quickly for the GPS or whatever it is to register where you are/how far you’re going.)
  3. Stars Hollow is loosely based on the real town of Washington, Connecticut – which is where I’ve decided we need to go to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary.  We watched the entire series together while we were in the early stages of dating – forget about  Hawaii, I want to re-live the Gilmore Girls!  And yes, I’ve already told Nathan he needs to take November 25th off work.
  4. If you don’t submit your writing, you won’t get published.  I’ve heard it said over and over that what makes you a writer is writing – but I’m not sure I agree.  Are you really a writer if you have no readers?  I love to write, but I’ve always written somewhat anonymously.  My blog isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s not something I share with my friends either.  I participated in Hannah Brencher‘s Writing Intensive last November and an important lesson I took away from it is that there’s no point in secret writing.  We write for ourselves, to some extent –  but it’s more important that we write for other people.  This month I submitted writing to a couple of blogs and other online publications – and the first one was actually accepted!
  5. Smores with peanut butter cups are THE BEST.

What did you learn this month?  

Family Photos

I don’t like to spend money on frivolous things.

My wardrobe is 90% Old Navy sale rack, I prefer the library to Amazon, and I shop three grocery stores, depending on sales.

But every year, at least once a year, I shell out several hundred dollars and force my family to pose for professional photos.

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Nathan hates it, Topher tolerates it, and Ellie – well, I think she actually looks forward to it!  She’s a bit of a ham :)

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My friend Lindsay started her own photography business when Topher was only a few months old, so she’s always been the lucky one who has to make my grumpy boys smile.  She’s gotten pretty good at it over the years – out of the 68 photos she edited for us this year, there were only 14 with silly faces/tongues sticking out!  (I don’t want to know how many she didn’t bother editing!)

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I love how natural the photos are.  She always manages to catch a couple of the kids that are just so them, like Ellie with her cheeky little grin.  We see that expression every single day and it usually means she’s plotting something she knows she’s going to get away with because she’s so stinking cute.

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And Nathan and Topher, acting like the goobers they are.  Somehow I can’t see them relaxing like that in the Sears Portrait Studio!

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There was a whole series of silly face shots.  Maybe I’ll put those ones on our Christmas cards this year?

She even got some nice pictures of me with the kids!  I don’t always like the way I look in photos but there are so few family pictures with me in them that I treasure the ones Lindsay takes!

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Now if we could only sell our condo so I could put up a gallery wall ….

 

Link Love

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I can’t believe summer is already halfway over!  Topher spent the first two weeks of his vacation going back and forth to the doctor’s office with an awful bout of bronchitis.  He had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic he was on so the doctor decided it would be best for Topher to fight the infection on his own.  After ten days with a high fever, the poor little guy finally beat it – this mama’s heart wouldn’t have been able to take it much longer!  Since he’s recovered we’ve been spending as much time as possible outside, playing at spray parks and playgrounds, having picnics, and visiting with friends.

This week we’re preparing for our first family camping trip since Topher was a baby.  The kitchen table is littered with lists:  Groceries to buy, items to pack, camping equipment to organize.  I know we’ll have a great time so it will all be worth it, but I forgot how much work camping is!

I won’t be around for a few days, since I’m so busy stocking up on insect repellant and bear spray – so here are a few posts from some of my favourite writers.  Enjoy!

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I’ve loved every book Shauna Niequist has ever written, so I was super excited to see this excerpt of her latest book, Present over Perfect (which releases August 9th!), pop up in my reader.

Jenn’s post, Permission to Be, was a reminder that I need all too often in this season of life:  “Don’t rush.  Stop complaining.  Let it be.  All in the name of being here.”

Another great reminder?   A Mama Fesses Up by Katie Blackburn.  “It seems to me that there is a whole lot to be terrified about these days. But verbal abuse and judgement from other parents should not be one of them. Maybe the best thing we can do is get really honest with ourselves and admit that our parenting is marked with just as many failures as victories …”

I’ve never been one to write about current events.  I’m afraid to say the wrong thing, so I say nothing.  Annie F. Downs put into words what I couldn’t in her post, It’s My Problem.

I loved Jenn’s post, In Praise of the Small and Ordinary.  “What are we doing, bringing kids into this crazy, messed-up world?” she writes.  “We’re hoping they’ll make it a better place.

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Do you camp?  What should I bring for food?

Missing My Mom

A month after graduation, I packed my bags. I was allowed one suitcase and two carry-ons so I boxed everything else up, carefully winding tape around and around half a dozen boxes. I was looking forward to the cross-country move. Growing up in a small town, the goal had always been the same: Get out.  

And at first, I didn’t look back. Of course I missed my family and my friends, but I was looking to the future instead of the past. My eyes were set on the life I wanted to build for myself, not on the lives I had left behind.

Since then I have missed countless events:

Birthdays and Christmases.

Taco Fridays and pizza Mondays.

My maternal grandmother’s last months and weeks and days.

I missed her funeral …

And I missed visiting my mom in the hospital when she was there for an extended stay shortly after our wedding.

She has missed out too:

On my relationship with Nathan.

On the births of her grandchildren.

On birthdays and Christmases, concerts and celebrations.

She’s seen her grandchildren grow up on Facebook instead of in person, and only knows them through Skype.

* * *

Today is my mom’s birthday.

I’m missing it – but more than the party and cake and balloons and candles –

I’m missing her.

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