Suddenly Chaos: Flipflops vs. Fiber

  1. loveValentine’s Day was this week and J and I decided to steal away for a night of passion Chinese food and Costco shopping. With wedding planning and grad school and three kids and the hour-long commute between us that makes weekends the only time we get to see each other, the impromptu Tuesday night date was pure luxury. Especially considering he is working all weekend and I’m playing single mom to two of the boys and a very muddy dog (more on that later.)

I’ve had tummy troubles all of my life, and J is convinced that my fiber consumption is to blame. Thus, during our Costco run, he insisted that we pick up a jar of adult gummy fiber supplements. You take two a day and it keeps things moving. Fine, I say to myself. I’m sure I can use more fiber in my diet and if it makes my guy happy, let’s just go with it. I even took the first dose in the car to show I was on board.

We drop the groceries off at home and got the kids settled in with pizza before heading out on our Valentine’s Date. The plan was to have Mexican, but our usual place was packed. I could feel the first signs of hangry coming to the surface as my normally sunny demeanor shifted to she-who-must-be-fed. We settled on our favorite Chinese place and had a truly lovely dinner. We talked, we laughed, and for a small moment in time we were just a guy and his girl out on a date. No responsibilities, no kids, no stressful jobs. Just love.

There is a certain dread to going home from a date night. The probability that there will be some kind of mess waiting is pretty high and that means taking corrective action with the boys. It’s the part of parenting no one warned me about. The cynic in me walks in the house looking for the problem. The optimist in me prays that there is nothing to find. The exhausted pigeon in me tries to ignore it. The teacher in me knows that this is a teaching moment. The struggle is real.

Generally speaking, the house was okay. I noticed, however, that the bottle of fiber gummies from earlier looked a little emptier than it had when we left. Apparently, Flipflops (who is 13, remember) thought they were candy and didn’t read the bottle. Then this conversation happened:

Me: Who ate the gummies?
Flipflops: …um, me?
Me: How many did you eat?
Flipflops: I didn’t count.
Me: Ballpark it for me, kid.
Flipflops: I don’t know…like, 10?

There was a moment of silent disbelief before J and I burst out laughing. The kid consumed five days worth of fiber in one sitting. While not life-threatening, we knew he’d be in for some major clean-out. It took a couple of days for his system to right itself, and hopefully the natural consequences will encourage him to read the bottle from now on.

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Ah, this is the life…

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Life moves pretty fast…

Remember me?

I do this all the time, I announce that I’ll be better a blogging, better at feeding the narcissistic urge I have force feed you the inane drivel of my conscious thought. In the same way that I announce that I’ll get healthy or get in shape or get more sleep or stop putting off laundry for an embarrassingly long time. I announce…and nothing changes.

What I really need to do is commit. Commit to a period of time, every day, to give to this little creative outlet I have. You wouldn’t think it would be hard; I’ve been making some pretty big commitments lately. Most recently, I did this…simonejustin-10I’m engaged!!!

J and I are happy to announce that we’ll be tying the knot in June. I get to be the happy wife to my best friend and the proud momma to Flipflops, MacGyver, and Little One.

We recently met up with Katrina Graham of Katrina Graham Photography who shot a gorgeous engagement session. Here are some of my favorites since I couldn’t possibly choose just one.

Can you even handle the cuteness?

Many thanks to Katrina for capturing our sweet and silly sides and making the whole process effortless!

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My “perfect relationship” is ruining my life.

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I am not a morning person. Seriously.

I’m under the impression that morning people are a bizarre race of quasi-human and shouldn’t be trusted.

I have a certain lifestyle to which I have become accustomed and it involves frantic mornings of oversleeping, hasty work preparations and speedy drives to school, while putting on mascara with one hand and trying not to spill my life-giving coffee. It might not be graceful, but it works for me.

And then came this guy.

J is staying at my house this week since the gremlins boys are with their mom for a month (!) and I’m still in school for a couple more days. It’s been a treat to have him around in the evenings, enjoying our snapshot of domesticity: making dinner, playing cards over coffee, etc. Since he’s sleeping in the guest room, I don’t notice when he wakes up until he comes into my room with a cup of coffee in hand and gently pulls me from slumber. Before I realize it, I’m caffeinated, dressed, and out the door to school on time. ON TIME!

How dare he?

I am not a morning person. I don’t do on time. I revel in the adrenaline rush of the last-minute. Nevermind the calm serenity of leaving on time! Where’s the excitement? Where’s the drama?!

Meh, I guess I could get used to this…

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The Beautiful Life…

This weekend I achieved a relationship goal of cinematic significance. Every sappy love story has one great kiss in the rain. Allie and Noah from The Notebook, Paul and Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Charles and Carrie from Four Weddings and a Funeral have filled our heads with the romance and emotional significance of the watery embrace.

tumblr_m3o3ln6nzd1qks92eo1_500Turns out,  much like everything else in my life these days, my kiss in the rain was nothing like I’d expected. Instead of a semi-frantic meeting of impassioned lovers, J and I giggled through our rainy kiss with the sounds of a neighborhood block party going on in the background.

Saturday night, J’s neighbor, SuperMom, and I decided to put together a little Memorial Day grill out for Sunday afternoon. We recruited a handful of neighbor families who pitched in a brought side dishes, and piled what turned into a couple dozen kids into SuperMom’s garage once it started raining. After a traditional grill out menu, the adults gathered around to chat while the older kids made up some kind of dodgeball alternative and the little ones ran laps around the cul-de-sac, jumping in every available puddle.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier.

Take a moment to enjoy your beautiful life: the silly moments, the perfectly imperfect moments, the moments you’ll never forget.

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Suddenly, chaos.

I spent the weekend with J and his three (!) boys. It was the first time I met them and I was more than a little excited, with a healthy dose of nervousness sprinkled in for fun.

I thought the biggest struggle was going to be packing for a weekend of endless possibilities of activities and weather. Despite what the calendar says, “spring” in the DC Metro area has decided to sleep in a bit and winter has stepped in for an encore. Add in a less than locked-in schedule, a couple of 5K runs, and church on Sunday, and my weekend bag was having a bit of an identity crisis. I was also the only estrogen in the sea of testosterone where five men regularly reside. FIVE! That means no bobby pins, flat irons, or clear nail polish in sight.

*brace yourself chickadee*

Turns out, the biggest challenge of the weekend was a matter of pets. J and the boys are dog people; friendly, energetic, loud, outgoing, did I mention loud? I’m more of a cat person.

Dirty, blistered, sick, and bruised, I hobbled home on Sunday exhausted, but ecstatic. I survived my first excursion into J’s natural environment. I got to see him in a whole new light, and it only increased my affection for him. I’m honored that he brought me into this portion of his life and I feel really positive about how the littles and I interacted. It will take time for me to adjust to my extremely loud and high energy future, but I’m exited for the challenge.

12994310_592997390856512_6143785930623525137_nPoint of fact, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about the kiddos moving forward. Here’s how you’ll know them:
Flip flops – 12,  loves video games, baseball, and pizza. Does not understand why we don’t wear clothes with holes in them.
MacGyver – 11, loves break dancing and taking things apart. Good at break dancing, still working on putting things back together.
Little One – 13 days shy of 8, loves hanging out with dad, board games, and doing whatever his brothers are doing.

Hope your weekend was at least half as fun as mine, but twice as restful.

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Stand by Your Man | How to help when there’s nothing you can do

“Sweetheart, I’m exhausted.”

His voice on the phone broke my heart a little. God, how do I make this better? I feel so helpless.

When J is in pain, I’m in pain. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s physical pain, like his hurt shoulder from a weekend of snow shoveling, or the weight of his responsibilities, I yearn to bear some of the burden. When I can’t make it better, I feel useless. After much consideration (and feedback that makes me feel like this stuff really works) I present 5 things you can do when you can’t do anything for your man. Or, you know, some much shorter, catchier title. Meh.

Pray for him

Get on your knees and plead for him. Pray that he would be strengthened, that God would protect his mind and heart, that he would not be tempted by sin in his time of weakness. Pray that you would have wise and encouraging things to say. Pray that God would use this hardship to bring himself glory. I think often we see prayer as a last resort, but it should really be a first response.

Listen to him

He may not want to vent; be ready to listen if he does. You will likely feel helpless as you are unable to do anything to ease his pain, but listening and standing by him as he walks through the valley are far more influential than you realize. Lend him strength by sharing his struggle; be sure he knows that you are always available to lend an ear.

Woman hugging a manRemind him that you are solid

During a stressful time in your man’s life, the last thing he needs is to worry that you are going to get fed up and walk away. Even if you feel like he “should know” how you feel, make a point to remind him that you are in it for the long haul and you aren’t going anywhere. He’ll know that whatever else may come his way, you’re always in his corner.

Tell him why you respect him

Women need love, men need respect. Make a list of the things you respect about him. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few things will go a long way to restoring his soul. Is he a great provider? Does he work hard? Does he take physical fitness seriously? Is he emotionally available to you? Is he a godly man?

When is that last time you told him how much those qualities mean to you, how much you respect him for all he does?

Be silly with him

No one can be serious all the time. He may be struggling through physical pain or emotional trial, but you can go a long way to lighten his mood. Send him a quick text with a funny meme, share an inside joke, or send him a selfie of a silly face. You’ll bring a smile to his face and remind him that you’re thinking of him in one fell swoop.

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The misery of merriment…

Christmas morning started like any other.

My 30-year-old brother allowed me to sleep until 9 am (some kind of record, I’m sure) before decreeing that it was present time. Presents opened, I made Christmas scones and we munched happily while the roast was prepped and went into the oven. Then comes the lull, that time between the flurry of activity in the morning and the mad dash to get Christmas dinner on the table. In a bit, I’ll need to pull my china out of storage and wash it. There will be potatoes to mash, crudités to cut up, and veggies to roast. I’ll get swept up in the rush and the beautiful adrenaline of the holidays will lift my spirits.

But right this moment, I’m sad.

Maybe because there is a great big personality missing. Maybe because the second year is so much harder than the first. Maybe because the weather is unseasonably warm and rainy. Maybe because a small part of my heart is on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Maybe because there seems to be no peace on earth. Whatever the reason, the ennui is real.

I hope this holiday finds you wrapped in warmth and love. If, instead (or additionally,) it finds you feeling a bit sad, my heart goes out to you. Remember, always, that God’s grace is sufficient. He will carry you through this difficult season and hold you up when you lack strength. He is greater than your pain and your sorrow.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

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We’ve only just begun…

Today would have been my parents’ 39th anniversary.

Mom and Dad WeddingOn an unseasonably warm day in February, 1976, she finally finished hemming her wedding dress before standing with him in front of their family and friends and declaring to love, honor, and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. They exchanged rings, yellow gold for him, antiqued white gold for her, and she forgot to retrieve her bouquet from her Matron of Honor, so my Aunt Marlene had to wrestle two huge sprays back down the aisle (they were enormous, no joke). As a little girl, I flipped through the pages of their wedding album, coveting their happiness.

When my dad died, I felt as if the ground under my feet gave way; nothing seemed real, nothing seemed permanent. I wondered if I’d ever really known my dad, or if he’d just been this stranger with whom I coexisted for a couple of decades.  There are so many questions I have for him, so many things I’ll never really understand.

Here’s something I do know: my parents’ marriage was real. My father was a hurting and broken man, but his love for my mom was absolute.

After his funeral, we took home a box of extra programs, papers, and cards from flower arrangements, along with random notions from the funeral home. At the bottom of the box was a small, black, draw-string bag that contained that same gold band he slipped on in 1976. It called out to me, a beacon of hope in a world that made no sense  — their love was real.

I wear that gold band on the middle finger of my left hand. Every time I see it, I’m reminded that in a world of things that seem unstable, there are absolute truths: the grace of God, the pain of stepping on a Lego, and the love of a young couple in a Methodist church in Fairmont, WV, 39 years ago.