Friday, August 17, 2012

My sister's reception

I am so happy for Hannah.
 God has blessed Hannah with a sweet guy, and they married in March with a very small group of family and friends.  But Aug. 20th was the reception and it was great and a family fun affair.
 My boys loved all of the games, food, family and FUN!
 We played water balloon volleyball.
 We hung with my "other" sister Rachel.
 Enjoyed toasts,
 and participated in the gunny sack races.
 Pictures were taken with props with lots of giggles and laughs.
 It has been ridiculously HOT ( I am NOT complaining!!!!) and so we spent a lot of time at the creek.
 Grant boy loved the water.
 Gavin loved the rocks and being goofy.  He loves to make people laugh.
 And then there was our sweet Gabe, playing with anything and everything- trying to stay clean, cool and be wet all at the same time!
 We did some potty breaks- but not the conventional way- boys are so easy.
 Britches up Grant!
 Corey and I laughed as this was the park where we were married- 11 years ago.  Our kids thought that was pretty special- and it is!  They are right.  They are here as a result of the love and promise that began that night!
Here's to many years of joy Hannah!  The spot was perfect for us!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Swimming Pool Fun!

Sometimes it is hard to let it go...

It shouldn't be.
Other people will always judge and have opinions.

My backyard this summer looks well, kinda like I run an in-home daycare (or ghetto or trashy!)
But this summer I don't  (won't ) care.

My sweet babes are home with me all summer and to them
It's all perspective...
 We have a big gigantic trampoline that is fun, safe and athletic.  My boys have jumped endless hours burning calories, spending energy, making up creative games and being out in the fresh air.  It also makes a great edge to jump off of.  ;)
 Then we have the eyesore of a cheap pool.  But, it has luckily been the NICEST summer in years.  Tons of days over 80 and 90 degrees.  It is safe and small, cool and refreshing, $60 with a cover, filter and pump system.  We have had so much fun and with it being only 30 inches-- they can swim but it is very safe as they all only are waist high in it.
 So, I will just turn off my brain from the eyesore to the giggles of my sweet angels, playing and playing and laughing (never asking about video games or cartoons.)
 Everything is a give and take-- give a season to "ugly backyard" for the happiest, busiest little boys on the block.
 I do know that my boys are loving having the "best backyard in Camas" as quoted from Gabe
and I KNOW it is true, especially as I see all the park kids gazing wistfully at our busy backyard full of meat on the BBQ, treehouse with a HUGE pirate flag blowing, kids sunning on the trampoline, and "crazies" jumping into the pool.

Enjoy it out there all you mamas!  They grow up so fast!
What do you struggle  with as to  "Letting it go...." ?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ELEVEN sweet years

Eleven...  ELEVEN years!  We have been married and they have all been sweet, (please don't hear easy) but OH SO SWEET! 

First I have known this great guy since I was 14.  I met him and we became best friends.  I know everything about him.  What makes him laugh, how to irritate him, how to get a hand squeeze, and how to finish his sentence.  So at 28 I had known him HALF my life.  Now at 33, we have known each other longer than we haven't known each other.

We began dating as 17 year old kids... KIDS...  It was love and BOY- YIKES, did we have some learning and growing up to do.  He learned:  I am a HUGGER.  I hug everyone because I CAN'T help myself.  I don't even realize I am doing it- I just do.  I learned:  He likes confrontation, ummm... I don't.  I learned that healthy communication is GOOD and makes things better.  He learned:  You don't have to say every negative thing on your mind.  I learned:  that it is best to talk it out and deal with issues.  He learned:  I hate yelling.  I learned:  He loves me enough to NEVER yell at me. 

We grew up together.  We graduated high school and know each other's family, friends, and places.  We survived long distance while I was at UW.  We loved exploring Seattle together and it broke our hearts each time he left after a long weekend.

We found ourselves individually through some time apart.  Sad, but very healthy.  I traveled the world to Central America to live and learned I NEVER, EVER want to travel anywhere without him again.  He checked out other girl possibilities, worked hard but realized what a great TEAM we make.  That our love was special, amazing and magical.  That God has woven our lives together and our relationship is the dream we both have always wanted.

He proposed.  I accepted.  We married and it was happily ever after-- most of the time.
The first year was our hardest.  Voicing our expectations in a kind way that the other person "gets it" or "understands" was tricky.  The funny thing was that we usually were thinking the same thing.  We just said it different- but were wanting the same outcome.

Patience, Understanding and Calmness helped us get through that first year.  Those few "hiccups" though were never overshadowed though by the BLISS of our happy first year of making a home, living together, and getting to spend so much time together.  We began our careers as a teacher and electrician.  We lived in a cozy 3 bedroom apartment right ON the train tracks.  It was simple and easy living.

Those first 5 years it was just us.  Traveling everywhere, anywhere, and hanging out with our friends.

We even headed back to Central America twice (Honduras - Roatan and Nicaragua - Tipitapa) and crossed many things off our bucket list together.  Snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, visiting las ruinas- the ruins, were some special things and memories we made and cherish together.

Then life threw us a new season.  We bought a home, had 3 kids in under 2 years (20 months) and had a diagnosis on Corey's health.  Those were some hard times, blurred with tears, unexplainable joy, 3 miracles of healthy children, and BUSY.

We loved it though and jumped ALL IN with a ferociousness of LOVE OF FAMILY.  We hugged, snuggled, and doted on our babies.  We laughed at the joy of Saturday mornings and all 5 of us cuddled in our bed.  We stepped on dropped Cheerios, had breastmilk in the fridge,ignored the baby toys taking over our living room, bath tub and life.  We happily traded in international vacations for weekend trips to the beach, days at fairs and sitting on sidewalks for parades.  Our hearts are full.

Corey and I have learned some amazing things on this ELEVEN year journey.  Marriage advice- No.  Marriage advice is tricky.  All people and couples are different.  One type of advice doesn't fit all.  But here are some things WE have learned to make live more pleasant and marriage a little sweeter.

1.  Remember WHO YOU MARRIED.  I was so frustrated at Corey for being gone somewhere so LONG when he was supposed to be just picking up dinner from a Chinese place.  He didn't even call and it took 2 hours and 20 minutes.  He and the other 2 guys left at 5:30 and got back about 7:45.  I was a SNOT.  I made it CLEAR how upset I was with my LOOKS, COMMENTS AND TONE ~ VERY CLEAR.  Later that night when we were finally home, fed and kids in bed Corey tells me how irritated he was at me for treating him that way.  WHAT!!??!!  He then explains that the other two guys had a LOT (4 drinks in 15-20 minutes) to drink in the lounge, they were talking (one was struggling), and were going to drive.  He offered to drive, they said that they were fine.  Corey wanted to keep them safe, and himself, so they stayed and talked.  I realized I KNOW COREY.   He is on time, super considerate, responsible, and respectful.  He was trying to be the responsible one, safe one so that all families could be safe.  I should have asked him privately what the deal was.  I should have given him the benefit of the doubt.   I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT COREY LOVES ME AND ONLY WANTS THE BEST FOR ME AND OUR LITTLE FAMILY.

2.  Be calm and kind.  Freaking out is never good or helpful, so take a breath, drink a glass of water and ask to discuss an issue in private.  Also make sure that you have eaten and gotten enough sleep.  Everyone is grouchy when hungry and tired! 
* don't dwell on it in your head until then. 
* Don't replay scenarios getting yourself more worked up.
* ask if they want to go first.
* promise each other to listen attentively
* don't interupt
* you have to be kind, you live and love this person.
* Don't use words to TEAR the other one down.

3.  Remember that you are on the same TEAM.  It's not good to be right and them wrong.  Better is compromise and figuring out the best way together that works for you two as a couple!

4.  Focus on YOUR marriage and watch our for those who either aren't "for" your marriage or the people who always cause you to fight.  Get smart.  Talk about it.  Know that certain people are toxic for your marriage.  Limit time with them, and be ready to "Shut that person down" letting them know with an icy look and firm comment that "Don't talk about my husband like that.  HE IS MY FAMILY, and he is my first priority.  We will leave if you continue. " OH, it is akward for sure but it gets the point across and usually deals with it quickly and rapidly.

5.  Make memories together.  Memories are powerful.  They remind you of the good. They help you stay positive when life is dark.  Because life IS hard, but so much sweeter with your best friend by your side.

6.  Start with the END in mind.  When I am 80, I want him and me.  I want a porch swing in the summer watching our grandkids play.  I want him to hold my hand- old and wrinkled -as we talk on walks when we are retired.  I want a fireplace and us sitting cozily side by side when we are old.  I want Scrabble in the evenings.  I want Christmases full of life and love in our home with kids, grandkids, and great-grandbabies.  I want it to be him and me traveling through retirement on cruise, Central America and Europe.

7.  Look good and take care of yourself.  Remember how you used to get yourself so dressed up for him.  Well, show him that you like his attention.  Well, know that we feel better about ourselves after a shower and dressed in clothes that we feel cute in.  It is good for you as an individual to take care of yourself.  Exercise is good.  Eating healthy is great.  A new pair of jeans and a cute shirt is OK sometimes to buy.

8.  Plan dates.  Just DO IT.  Get in on the calendar.  Get creative.  They don't have to be expensive.  They can be after the kids are asleep.  But some attention  to your spouse says a LOT.  It says, " I was thinking about you.  You were on my mind.  I love you.  I still love you.  You are worth my time and effort.  You are what I choose to do this evening."  And it makes those incredible memories, and always leads somewhere fun!  :)  (See the LOVE ACTUALLY blog on the sidebar.  Her ideas are incredible.  I am doing the dart gun- Mission Impossible one next.  Corey's fave was the SGT/ Bootcamp one.  )

9.  Remember that it ISN'T all about the kids.  They are part of the family.  Not all of it.  Get on the EXACT same page when parenting.  Be consistent so that they can't "play" you against each other.  So plan your family times and outings (80% for Corey and I) and plan your dates as couples (20% for Corey and I). 

10. So much of life is perspective.   So MAKE it good - get pro active.  Don't wait for life to slow down.  Jump in- Plan fun things.  Be generous with encouragement.  Forgive- and let it go.  Lavish love so that your spouse is confident.  Have your actions prove the love that is in your heart.  Be spontaneous and do something for "no reason- just was thinking about you." 

11.  Give them time for a break.  My man works so hard and I try to let him know that we appreciate it tremendously.  Let them watch TV without kids bombarding.  Let them sleep in on a weekend.  Let them have a nap.  Give them the remote.  Take the kids on an errand and let them work on a project or hobby.  **  The thing is- that they feel loved, and note your extra effort.  They in return look for ways to make your life easier.  That is the cycle of a SWEET, HAPPY marriage.  I am not looking to point out errors in his job, life, habits and parenting.  I am trying to lighten the load, make him smile and spoil him a little.  And a little goes a long way.  I see the END folks.  And it is sweet- him and me to the very end.

Happy Anniversary Corey.  You are the best of me.

So, what are your tips for a happy marriage?  What works for you?  I would love to hear!