Lessons

Have you missed me?

Just a reminder that I’m now over at LovingHere.com, blogging away about life, love, and our new home. (That’s a love affair of an entirely different kind…the “remodeling-want-to-pull-your-hair-out-but-still-so-blessed-to-live-here” kind.

Anyway, please go check it out if you haven’t already, and make sure to sign up to follow that blog by email as well. It’s the best way to not miss any posts and sorry, even if you signed up here, you’ll still have to sign up there since it’s a totally new domain name and everything.

Can’t wait to see you guys over there.

(And make sure to check out this post to see if you were the winner of the giveaway! I had to draw new winners and it might be you!)

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How a broken radiator taught me to trust my husband more

Last week, my car overheated on the way to get the water switched over to our name at our new house. I told you guys all about it, so of course, because you are such loyal and awesome readers, that you remember ever tiny little detail about it. In case your mind is a little fuzzy on the details, or you missed it because you were vacationing somewhere fabulous and fancy, or just because the post was so awesome you want to go back and read it again, here it is.

A few days after all that took place, Hubs and I were driving around in my car because his car doesn’t have air conditioning and it’s 150-million degrees in Kansas City lately (No? Fine, but it’s hot!), it started to get a little hot again.

Why do we get so upset that our cars can’t keep cool in this heat. WE can’t keep cool in this heat!

When we got home, he checked the water levels and they were low again. That means I had a leak. Uh oh.

But he saw a tiny little line that looked like a crack on the radiator and so set to work finding out where to buy one and thinking about getting it replaced right away.

He tracked down the best deal for the fix: buying the radiator from an auto-store and putting it in himself, and set out to get started.

I balked.

Just a little, but it was enough to make him mad.

I wanted to KNOW that spending the money (unbudgeted, mind you, though we do have an emergency fund)  would fix the problem. We just bought a house. I don’t have a full time job. This is not the time to spend money we don’t have to. I needed some assurance that this money and effort (it seemed like an awful lot of work to put that radiator in ourselves!) would not all be for nothing when we found my car was still loosing water somewhere…

Hubs was angry.

He thought this meant I was arguing with him, doubting his wisdom on fixing the car, blocking him from trying to take action to fix a problem for me, for us, as soon as possible.

I didn’t mean to convey all that with my questions, but I guess I did. He didn’t mean to blow up and get so huffy so fast when all I was looking for was some additional reassurance, but it certainly resulted in a negative reaction from both of us as he stormed down the steps to go find some “proof” this “crack” was the culprit.

Oops. Good thing we forgive easily.

So after a few minutes of huffing and sulking and being salty with each other, we set to work. He filled up the radiator with water and squeezed some big hose for a few minutes until, yup, little water bubbles started foaming out of the tiny little line that did, in fact, turn out to be fairly significant crack in a super important part of the car, especially when it’s 100+ degrees outside.

So we bought the radiator and parked under a shade tree in our apartment’s parking lot. And then we worked all evening, about three hours or so, until we got it changed.

I’m allowed to honestly say “we” there because I helped, really.

I promise I did. You can ask him.

I held the light. I struggled to hold back hoses and stuff that were in his way. I even helped put in some little pin thing that holds the hose in place. I found and picked up stuff he dropped down into the mess of parts and stuff that make up the tangled, confusing mess under the hood of the car whenever the little pins were so small and springy that he could barely hold onto them while having to fight to work in the tiny space between the fan and the radiator to get things all hooked back up properly. I took out and put back in the air filter so he’d have about an inch more room to work….you get the idea.

And pretty soon this happened:

Hubs putting in the last bolt. We’re finally done!

We had successfully taken this out:

Yuck.

And put this in its place:

So shiny and new!

Time to relax and celebrate!

But it was after 9:00 and we hadn’t had dinner, we both needed a shower and we were hot and tired.

So we scrubbed the oil and grease and dirt and stuff off our hands and arms, warmed up some leftovers, and collapsed on our couch for the rest of the night. And by rest of the night, I mean about an hour before we dragged ourselves off to bed.

But in this crazy mess of an afternoon that was supposed to be relaxing (we’d scheduled some QT involving yummy food and FRIENDS on the couch that night), I learned an awesome lesson.

This man that I married never ceases to amaze me or give me more and more reasons to love and respect him. He knows so much about so much and is willing to work hard to do whatever he needs to provide for us. He’s smart and strong and sensible. He’s loving and patient and kind to me when I don’t deserve it.  He’s more than I ever imagined he could be when we danced that first dance together in the gym…when I was 15.

I’m nearly 23 now and you know what? I’m more than I ever imagined I could be, too. Funny how life does that to us, huh?

And I’m grateful to love a man I can trust with my heart, my life, my future babies…and my car.

So very thankful for these hands. And this man.

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Was there an earthquake? And other lessons…

I learned two lessons tonight. One of them may change my marriage for the better if I’m able to really let it sink in.

1. Things will break.

Yes, it was a sad night in our kitchen tonight.

One of the beer glasses I got for Wyatt for Christmas this year broke in the dishwasher and Hubs discovered it as he was unloading it tonight while I was making dinner.

I was devastated because it was the first item we’d really broken since being married. (We lasted almost a year with no broken glass…wow! Anyone who knows us knows that’s an accomplishment, being as we are both super clumsy.) We’ve been so careful with all of our new, nice things because we aren’t in a place financially to just run out and replace everything and anything all the time. We try to take the best care of our things as we can. And these glasses were special because they were a gift from me to him on our first Christmas together…

And now we only have 3 of them.

I didn’t cry. But I wanted to a little bit.

Hubs was quick to say it was fine and that it wasn’t a big deal. I toughened up and agreed.

Until I opened the fridge and saw this.

Seriously, What happened?!?

That’s a HUGE crack in our everyday pitcher that we love. And it happened while it was just sitting in the fridge. When I saw it and cried out in disbelief, Hubs was quick to come see what was the matter. He was shocked to see the ruined pitcher, and asked if there’d been an earthquake or something.

Why was all this stuff breaking now?

On a day when I’d been feeling salty and grumpy and discouraged and sad about needing a full time job and wanting to contribute more to our finances to help us be more secure as we buy this house and have more bills to deal with each month.

On a night we’d already bickered a few times, mostly because I was upset and struggling to not take out my frustration on Hubs.

Broken…so broken.

But as I whined and complained and sulked over the broken pieces, Hubs so wisely pointed out that “Honey, things break.”

Which brings me to lesson two.

2. Just because things break or feel like they are breaking, doesn’t mean our marriage is broken.

We’re going to have hard times. We’re going to struggle with worries about finances and major decisions. It’s part of life. Me not having a “real” job right now can’t affect us to the point that we’re living in fear of the unknown. The truth is that we are getting by just fine and we are so excited to be able to buy this house that we love. We’re not in over our heads and if we keep saving and being frugal and sticking to our budget, we won’t get that way. We’ll be fine.

Better than fine.

I can’t let my career situation define me in a negative way right now. I am doing what I can and we are moving forward every day. My lack of a job, no matter what it feels like some days, doesn’t mean I’m broken.

And it certainly doesn’t mean we’re broken.

And unlike these glasses, we’re going to be fine.

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Working girl blues

Well, as you guys know, I’m now working only from home every day. And I’m actually staying pretty busy, and making as much as I was during my internship days. (Still not as steady and secure as a “real” full time job, but I’m enjoying my time. Mostly. I’m certainly learning a bunch of things through this time though.

Here’s my list of the best and biggest lessons I’ve learned since going to work in our apartment.

1. People don’t think that I’m actually working. It’s not all that fun to explain that, yes, I’m actually working during the day so I can’t talk on Facebook, chat on the phone, or watch TV all day if I want to get anything done. Plus, I’ve learned that I often have to re-convince myself that I’m not unemployed right now. I’m self-employed.

2. Managing my time is harder now than ever before. I find myself feeling guilty if I don’t have time to clean the kitchen or fold and put away all the laundry while Hubs is away at work. Why? I wouldn’t feel bad about not doing those things if I was sitting at a desk at an office all day? I need to remember that working from home is just that…working.

3. It’s true that our surroundings influence our work. I’m often not inspired enough by the walls in our mostly plain apartment. Don’t get me wrong. I love it here, but I also think I do better work when my environment feels fresh. I spend way too much time in the living/dining room to have it feel very fresh and inspiring when I sit down to write.

4. Twitter, Facebook, and even email are time-sucking traps. I think you all know what I mean there, right?

5. I NEED a good desk and a good chair…like yesterday. I’m already noticing my neck and back feel tight and uncomfortable after a few minutes of working on my computer. I used to be able to sit for hours with my computer on my lap. Now, my head and eyes start to ache much sooner. Sitting on the couch may feel good on my tushie, but the rest of my body suffers. Ouch. At the same time, sitting on the hard, bar-height dining room table hurts my tush and hips, while my neck and shoulders feel more relaxed. Good grief!

What about you? Have you ever worked from home? How did you adjust? 

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The 10 Best Things About Being a Newlywed

I’ve had some time to think about marriage recently, and I’ve compiled a list that I thought was important enough to share with all of you. Ready? Let’s go.

(Note: This list is not at all intended to be taken totally seriously, unless of course, you are a newlywed, or can remember being one, and thus, you can remember the complicated sense of annoyed-joy that goes along with many of these “bests.”)

(Another note. If written sarcasm gives you trouble, and it does for a lot of us, then here’s a hint: most of this is written with the sarcastic undertones of a writer who has had an incredibly frustrating day, and yet is trying desperately to cling to the optimistic, happy bursts of energy that get me through each day.)

1. It’s awesome how poor newlyweds are! I love that the most extravagant splurge we make each week is deciding which low-to-moderately-priced restaurant we want to eat at for the one meal each week that we budget not eating at home for. This makes it incredibly easy to explore all the coolest and hippest places in this great big city that we call home.

2. Hand-me-down furniture matches so well! Luckily, my style is pretty eclectic so I actually like a lot of the pieces we’re slowly starting to collect. However, Hubs isn’t so lucky. He typically likes things more sleek and modern. Not something that’s easy to find at thrift shops, garage sales, and in our parents’ basements.

3. Sharing a bathroom for the first time with a member of the opposite sex isn’t at all awkward! We live in a one bedroom apartment with one bathroom. There’s not a lot of sound-proofing, or smell-proofing, that goes along with a situation like that. Oh, and there’s long hairs on nearly every surface in there, no matter how often I try to clean them up. I’m sure Hubs is wondering how there’s still any hair left on my head after I’ve shed all over everything for the past year.

4. Sleeping in the same bed with someone for the first time after 20+ years of not sharing the covers is such an easy adjustment to make! You guys that have been married for a bunch of years don’t fight over the sheets, talk in your sleep, kick each other in the shins, accidentally put an elbow in someone’s ear or eye in the middle of the night, or blow morning breath in each others’ faces often enough. You should try doing all those things again. It will really help rekindle the romance in your lives, I’m sure of it. It also helps you be super sweet to each other when a fight breaks out after a bad night’s sleep.

5. People expect us to start having kids any day now, which is awesome. I love dreaming about the future, but I also like sleeping through the night and not spending hundreds of dollars on diapers every month. See numbers 1 and 4 if you need clarification on those two things again.

6. We get to experience a whole bunch of new things all the time that make us grumpy. When you’ve only lived together a short time, it’s easy to always find new ways to annoy each other. We’re learning how to avoid these things, but there are bound to be plenty of more new fights before we’ve “had them all.”

7. It’s acceptable to be lovely-dovey in public. Nothing says “I love you,” like a bold pat on the tushie or a big kiss while waiting in line at the grocery store.

8. Almost all of our photos are professionally taken, so they look great. We don’t have any kids so almost all of our photo frames are full of pictures of us. Most of those were taken on our wedding day. They are beautiful, but I wonder how long it’s acceptable to only display photos of our wedding in our home.

9. Almost all recipes require a special trip to the store because we don’t have a built-up pantry. I love finding awesome recipes I want to make that night and then realizing we don’t have like half of the ingredients!

10. None of these other things really matter that much because marriage is a journey that I’m happy to be on with my best friend. Yes, we fight, and yes we have some unfortunate moments. But, overall, I’d say that we’ve learned more than we ever planned to, and love each other more now than we did before. We’re patient, most of the time, and happy, almost all of the time, too, so there’s really nothing to complain about.

And about the other nine items on my list? We’ll get through them. But if you have advice, we’d love to hear it!

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“U”nderstanding Each Other

Hubs and I are different.

A lot different.

I am a 50% rational and 50% emotional. Usually the rational part wins over, but when it’s time to be emotional, boy, do I get emotional!

Hubs is 80% rational and 20% emotional.*

This can make it hard to communicate.

Case in point?

Last night, about 11:15pm, laying in bed.

I was feeling overwhelmed about working and job hunting and house cleaning and moving and finding a house and…

Hubs was tired.

He knew it was fine for bed.

I knew it was time for bed, too, but the emotional part of my being won out.

I’ll admit there was some crying when Hubs wasn’t really supportive of my need to be cheered up and calmed down.

He was rational in that he said I already knew everything he would say to cheer me up. I knew that I knew all those things, too, but I was already too emotional to care about that stuff now.

(In my defense, I understand that I was still on antibiotics that make me feel super nauseous and that my body is trying to get better, so I know I wasn’t really myself.)

(In Hubs’ defense, he eventually understood that he was going to have to give in and just work me through my emotional-ness, no matter how much he tried to convince me to be rational.

So we had a bit of a fight and stayed up later than we should have.

And we managed to make up and wake up happy together.

Because we understand each other, even when we’re unhappy.

*Hubs approved all the percentages estimated in this post.

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“K”nowing what to do…

I’m fond of saying, “…back when I was young and dumb…” to refer to decisions and choices and habits I had when I was younger.

Younger meaning a couple years ago.

Maybe back to high school age…but still, it wasn’t all that long ago…

Either way, I joke that I’m older and wiser now.

And in a way, I guess I am. Hubs and I have grown up a lot in the last few years. We’ve made big decisions, we’ve planned a wedding, graduated, gotten jobs, got married, gotten more jobs, decided to quit jobs, selected and rented an apartment, managed a budget, learned to live together, moved away from friends and family, lost loved ones, gained new friends…

…it’s been a big year.

So, yes, we are wiser now.

But we still have a lot to learn.

We’re currently in the process of selecting a house and we are realizing just how hard it is to make these decisions that will affect us, majorly, for the next several years of our life. It’s a big commitment.

And it’s hard.

In the end, I guess we’ll never really “know” what to do.

But we will know all we can know.

That we need to talk about it, think about it, pray about it, and talk about it some more. And when we can be at peace with decision, we’ll know it’s right.

Right?

What about you? What sort of things do you “know?” And how do you know that you know you know?

(Awesomeness bonus points if you know what that reference is.)

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“I”ntentional

Hubs and I don’t like to fight.

We don’t thrive on the drama.

We don’t enjoy feeling angry or upset.

But that doesn’t mean we’re always intentional like we should be.

Let me put it this way:

just because we aren’t intentional about picking fights with one another doesn’t mean we don’t have to be  intentional about trying to avoid it prevent them.

Here’s an example.

Last night was a grumpy one for me. I’m feeling a little sick and trying to fight it off but I was tired and feeling a little overwhelmed by some big decisions in our life right now.

So I reacted poorly when Hubs sat on the couch playing on his computer while I put away three loads worth of laundry.

I didn’t mean to get angry…but that felt justified so I didn’t stop it. Then I said something negative, got huffy, and went to bed.

He reacted negatively to this, defending his actions by citing times he feels I ignore him when I’m on my computer.

And then we were fighting…right before bed…which is the worst time to fight.

If we had been more intentional about the incident, the fight could have been avoided.

I could have asked for help with the laundry instead of silently allowing myself to get more and more upset…when I knew he had no idea I was angry.

He could have called me on my negativity when I snapped at him instead of casually throwing out incidents in our conversion that felt like attacks to me in my already agitated mindset.

We’re still learning, but we’ll try to work on this more.

There are other aspects where being intentional is important too but this is enough for one night.

What about you? What things are you intentional about? What should you be more intentional about?

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Lesson #12: Long days are hard. Love notes help.

Today I worked at job number 3 from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. That means I got up at 6:00 (when we went to bed at 2a.m.!) and drove a total of an hour there and back…in medium traffic. I also had another  “eh” day at work. I’m still very much in the settling in phase…

When I got home, I cleaned the kitchen and folded and hung up clothes for about twenty minutes until I headed off to job number 2 from 5 to 9. While there I vacuumed for about thirty minutes, using a vacuum literally made in the 50s. (Ok, I made that up, but it’s old, and weighs about 50 pounds, so I took a wild guess.) And everyone knows how I love to vacuum, right?

…yeah…

I also answered the phone a lot.

…yeah…

And then, I came home and spent about 40 minutes on job number 1, editing a freelance assignment piece I wrote last night (before the soccer game) that needed to be sent out today.

Individually, all of this would have been pleasant. Together, as it was, it wasn’t terrible. Just a long day.

While at job number 3 (the third job I received, which is how I label them, but the first job I went to today, which makes it a bit confusing for you guys…), I wrote this note:

A little silly. A little sweet. A little sarcastic. All honest. All exactly what my heart needed to say.

I love to write love notes. I love using written words to tell someone exactly what they mean to me, and why I’m feeling especially blessed by them today. I love the way writing makes me slow down and really focus on the person and how rich they make my life.

Hubs doesn’t write a lot of love notes. He did when we were in high school. He’d scribble a message on notebook paper and leave it in my locker in between classes or after soccer practice. I still have those. All of them. Someday I’ll use them to embarrass our kids, and as proof that yes, we really were young and dumb, two crazy kids in love.

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why Hubs doesn’t write love notes anymore.

So anyway, just because Hubs doesn’t write love notes, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t ever give me love notes.

Because when I came home from job number 2 and settled down to start job number 1 (see the note above about how the jobs are labeled if that confused you…), I was given this for dinner.

His words, "Presentation means everything." Boy, is he right!

Because when he presented this dinner to me (Macaroni, sauteed zucchini and tomatoes–don’t judge if you haven’t had it. It’s delicious, so so so so good), I felt loved. I could see that I was loved. I could taste that I was loved.

And what better kind of love note is there than that?

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Lesson #11: 6 months in…

Today, Hubs and I have been married for 6 months. I can’t believe how amazing it is to be married to my best friend. He’s the cheese to my macaroni and the butter to my bread. Can you tell I love my husband? And that I love carbs?

Yup, we're married. And we're super happy about it!

Before we were married, I felt a huge burden to learn to be a wife. Of course, there was nothing I could have done to prepare myself for marriage. True, I had great examples in our friends and family to learn from, but overall, Hubs and I are committed to just figuring our how to make our little family work.

Here’s a list of some things I’ve learned so far.

(P.S. Check out the links throughout to read the stories that inspired these lessons.)

1. Being a wife is much more difficult than being a girlfriend. We had a lot of fun when we were dating, but dating isn’t cheap. Now that we’re married, it’s not all fun and games anymore. Our nights are no longer just filled with dinner dates and going to movies or plays. We have nights that are devoted almost entirely to cleaning and paying bills, and we hardly ever go out to a “nice” dinner anymore.  We save as much money as we can and we sometimes worry about the future or costly unexpected repair bills. Mostly, though, we just try to enjoy every day in this blessing of a life.

Yes, unexpected costs are a pain, but no, it didn't ruin our Christmas.

2. It’s not all smiles all the time. Since Hubs and I are together so much more than we were while we were dating, I have to really keep my attitude in check. Before I was usually happy when we were together because I didn’t want to waste any of the short time we had together by being unhappy. Now that we have more time, I sometimes struggle with thinking that I “have time” to pout. But, I constantly trying to combat that by reminding myself that as a wife, it’s my duty to be a blessing to my husband, no matter how grumpy or salty I am. That means I need to keep fighting against the grumps and not give in to the little, everyday problems that can chip away at our joy. Because let’s face it, when I’m not happy, Hubs isn’t either.

3. Doing laundry is my favorite household chore. However, I sometimes dislike the amount of folding that has to be done to keep clothes from getting wrinkled. Dusting, cleaning the bathtub, sink, and outside of the toilet are my least favorite. Vacuuming used to be at the bottom of the list, until I became the proud owner of an Oreck. Even, I smile, with my vacuum-hating history, when using this master cleaner.

4. Size isn’t everything. I love our little apartment. We don’t have a lot of room, but it’s perfect for us as we’re starting out. My only complaint? The lack of storage and prep space in our tiny kitchen. Luckily, I have a husband with the motto, “will wash for food,” and my dishes hardly ever stay dirty in the sink for very long. Which is great, because I LOVE learning to cook. Plus, I still love this room, no matter how small I sometimes feel that it is.

5. Growing up means going to bed earlier. Almost all the time. And you know what? I’m pretty okay with that. Especially since learning to sleep together has been a challenge. (It still is sometimes...)

This is our bed. We like being there. It's a nice place.

6. Working is both a blessing (that I’m very thankful for), challenge, and a curse (I dislike working weekends when Hubs is home without me, and having my days off during the week, when I’m home without him). Yes, I whined all Fall about not having a job and how bummed out I was that no one would hire me, even Old Navy. Now that I’m working 30 or so hours a week at my part time job, I so appreciate the time I had at home to myself. I was able to get so much done during the day when I was home all the time. At the same time, I feel proud to contribute to our savings account as we watch our down payment fund increase every month. And while I don’t dislike my job, it’s certainly not what I picture myself doing for a long period of time.

Remember how happy I was when I "got hired?" Well, the excitement is slowly fading...though I'm still very thankful.

7. We don’t need to pretend as though we feel we’re on a never-ending date. We’re married now, and that’s totally and completely different! We share a bathroom, for goodness sake! And we can hang out on lazy morning without getting dressed. And we can argue fairly and never worry that one of us will “give up and give in.” We’re in it for the rest of our lives, and there will be bad fights, hard nights, and unfortunate sights…and smells. But none of that matters because we’re not dating anymore. We’re married, and we’re happy to be moving forward.

8. Fighting fair is something we’re committed to doing for the rest of our lives, but it isn’t always easy. Wyatt has always been a bit more in control of his emotions, but that doesn’t always mean he’s better at conflict, because avoiding the topic and trying to move on only works for one of us (hint: it’s not me) and even then, it’s important to not bottle everything up forever. Still, I’ve learned more about myself and my argument habits than I ever thought I needed to know.

9. The hardest part about being a newlywed isn’t figuring out how to live together, so I disagree with those that say you NEED to live together before getting married to make sure it will work. The hardest part about being a newlywed is just figuring out how to do life all on our own. We’ve been best friends for more than 6 years, but until now, we’ve never been on our own together. We’re making decisions and doing our best to figure things out. We mess up and drop the ball (late or forgotten payments, anyone?) but we do our best to just laugh at ourselves and do better next time. And when we mess up with how we treat each other? It’s more than worth it to take the time to make up and make out later. (Yes, making out is key to any marriage, I say.)

We kissed a lot 6 months ago. We still kiss a lot now. Some things haven't changed a bit. We're still crazy for each other.

10. Being a wife is something I’m certain I was made to do. I may not know “what I want to be when I grow up,” or when I’ll get “a real job,” but I know I’m being the best wife I can be to the best husband I can imagine. Sure, someday our family will grow and it won’t be just the two of us anymore, but for now, I love our little family, and am super blessed every day with new surprises that this newlywed life brings our way.

Happy in our newlywed life!

Oh, and a bonus lesson?

I’m still terrified of spiders, but I’m learning to make my peace with the fact that they exist and that we may come in contact more than I’d prefer...

What do you think? What lessons have you learned in your marriage, whether it’s six months in or thirty years…or more!

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