Hubby’s Birthday

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J turned 28 yesterday and we had the most fun celebrating him this past weekend. So, let me take a minute to brag about my husband… pretty much every morning, for the past 10 weeks, J has gotten Sophie out of bed, allowing me to sleep in, he feeds her breakfast, gets her dressed, brushes her teeth, and then tucks her into bed with me [and some times my cell phone on “kids mode”] before he leaves for work. This allows me to sleep in even longer, as long as Sophie is content to be in bed with me. That is just ONE of many things he does to try and make my life easier.

Since we plan on moving in the near future, he’s only showed me more how great of a father he truly is. He works hard to provide for us [and clip coupons for us], making sure we have enough food for the week [thank you coupons], that I can have the heat on as long as I want during these frigid Ohio winters, enough clothes [thanks again to coupons], and finally a home. Becoming a home owner is a big deal, and as the sole provider of this family, I’d think the process would stress him out or be a burden on him, and all I’ve heard are remarks of anticipation from him, and how he can’t wait to build a home with me and our 2 baby girls.

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He is silly, makes me laugh, is kind and tender to this overly-emotional, some times seasonally depressed California girl. I feel so blessed to have him in my life, and I couldn’t have concocted a more perfect spouse for myself if I tried. Now, I’m not saying he’s perfect, that’s definitely not the case… but I see where his weaknesses collide with my strengths, and vice-versa. Furthermore, I see how our chemistry together will help us to raise beautiful, God-loving girls.

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So happy birthday to the best dada and hubs I know! You bring so much joy to my life!

4 Reasons We Didn’t Cohabitate

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Disclaimer: typically I hate disclaimers, because I shouldn’t have to apologize for having an opinion or sharing my life experience with my readers, but I’ll give you one anyway. This is not a condemnation of couples who choose to cohabitate, nor is it a religious post… these are 4 logical reasons J and I decided not to cohabitate before marriage, and why I recommend it to every engaged couple I know.

I have an amazing marriage. Even though it’s not without it’s problems, I credit a lot of our success to our more “traditional” practices, including not living together before we were married. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my news feed was full of couples announcing their engagements which made me feel happy and nostalgic about mine and J’s engagement period. I began to think about how “different” we are than a lot of other people our age, but how I wouldn’t change a thing about the way we prepared ourselves for marriage. So, without further ado, here are the reasons why we chose to live separately:

  1. It was cheaper. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard couples try to justify living together before marriage because “it’s more affordable.” Really? Allow me to explain why you’re wrong. I was splitting the cost of rent and utilities with 2 other women. J was splitting his costs with 3 other men. The more people you have sharing the cost, the less each of you have to pay. I really don’t see how J and I living together in a house and being responsible for all the costs would have been the more economical choice.
  2. We were trying to practice chastity. Now, I don’t want to argue with you about chastity, but I will say this… remember those days of raging teenage hormones that had you in a perpetual state of lusting? Yeah, chances are you didn’t make the best life decisions back in those days, at least I know I personally didn’t. When I went away to college, I promised myself I wouldn’t be guided by sexual desire ESPECIALLY when it came to looking for a future spouse. Why didn’t we ‘seal the deal’ after our engagement? Because, contrary to popular belief, engagement is still a trial period. Granted, it’s a more serious, more committed time in your relationship, but it’s your last chance to make sure you’re picking the right person to spend the rest of your life with. I knew if I gave myself over physically and emotionally, my judgment would be completely clouded. I can’t tell you how many of my friends I have seen justify their boyfriends bad behavior because they gave themselves over too soon. Again, not a judgement, just my personal experience. I wanted a clear head. It was much easier to commit to chastity when I wasn’t going to sleep next to the love of my life every night [and trust me, it was still hard, even though we lived apart].
  3. “How do you know if some one is good for you unless you live with them first?” I’m calling BS on this argument too. In fact, I think living together before your married tells you LESS about a person as opposed to more. When you live together, decisions are easier. You don’t have to coordinate pick ups or drop offs, you just do what you want to do together. When you live apart, every choice involves communication. “Where do you want to meet? What time do you want to go? What time do you need to be home? Is there anything you need to get done before we leave or can I come over before?” Any old married couple will tell you how key communication is in a relationship. Living apart forces you to communicate with your future spouse, and I think that practice makes perfect. There is a lot of coordination and communication that has to happen when you live apart, and it made a huge difference for us in learning how we  communicate.
  4. Bachelorette Pad. I got married 10 days after I turned 21. That’s pretty young, especially for some one of my generation. What I hear most often from college sweethearts is that they feel like they didn’t get to take advantage of their “best years” before tying the knot.  Living apart from my future spouse gave me one last shot at living it up as an unmarried woman. I could dance in my underwear, invite all my girlfriends over late at night, binge on ice cream while watching chick flicks endlessly, have people stay the night, be as clean or as messy as I wanted to be, have pink curtains and a hot pink bedspread… I mean, the list goes on. I didn’t have Justin waiting up for me, expecting me home at certain times, wanting to eat every meal with me, or not wanting to have all my crazy friends over at what would have been “our house.” I got to spend time with him, and then go get to be a crazy girl on my own time. The fact of the matter is this, the “two” hadn’t “become one” yet, so there was no reason to pretend or act like we had. I mean, if you’re getting married you literally have the REST of your lives to figure out how to “become one” …it certainly doesn’t need to start the moment your realize your boyfriend is “the one.”

Anyway, I know every person/relationship is different, but I am so glad J and I did things the way that we did. I feel like we had a really solid foundation before I walked down that aisle, and the ways living separately forced us to grow, were invaluable tools that helped us survive that first year of marriage.

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“Your Feelings Don’t Matter”

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Before you read this, you should know I am the ULTIMATE, emotional feeler. That is why I’m writing this post. My dear husband is pretty much the opposite from me in every way [for those of you into Myer-Briggs, I’m and ENFP and he’s an ISTJ… I mean, c’mon!]

We were getting ready for bed a few nights ago, and as I peeled off my snot covered shirt [courtesy of the sick baby] and my 2 day old XL pajama pants, my husband looked up from his book and said “You’re so beautiful.” If i were a good wife, I would have cherished the compliment, rolled over and gone to sleep. Instead I tried to refute it. “I’m enormously pregnant, these stretch marks are driving me crazy… and well —  I just don’t FEEL beautiful!” Some times, my husband [knowing what a delicate emotional flower that I am] is very gentle in his responses to me. This was not one of those times. He set his book down, sat up and said “Your feelings don’t matter. You’ve pretty much never “felt” beautiful in the entire time that I’ve known you, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m attracted to you. I MADE 2 BABIES WITH YOU. Some women FEEL like men, that doesn’t change the fact that they have a female anatomy!” Before you grab your pitchfork, that last comment was not to hate on transgendered people, ok? The main point Hubs was getting at was: How you “feel” doesn’t dictate the reality of what you are.

I never feel like a good enough mother.
I never feel like a good enough wife.
I never feel beautiful.
I never feel at home in Ohio.

I let a lot of these feelings rule my life some times. Of course emotions are important, and I think it is equally important to communicate how you feel to people, especially a spouse. However, I also needed the reminder to step back, and separate how I feel and perceive things and compare that to the reality around me.

So next time your spouse says something that feels like a white hot iron being dug into your heart, try to hear them out. It may give you an encouraging, fresh perspective.

3 Years Later — Marriage is Still Hard

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I don’t remember our first big fight. Probably because the love and forgiveness surrounding the conclusion of our discussions, always outweigh whatever it was we were fighting about.

Every year that passes, living out those marriage vows become harder. People often say the first year is the hardest. Well, I’d argue that every year is the hardest. In Catholicism, marriage is a vocation, some thing that God has called you to do, some thing that will purify you, draw you closer to Him, and refine your soul into a saint’s. Surely, that process isn’t meant to be easy and from my experience, it certainly has not been. Last year we had another soul to care for [our baby girl], and we go into this year with me baring another. I don’t mean to illustrate our children as burdens, however, it is no light thing to bring another life into the world either. We are entrusted to protect these babies and raise them to the glory of God. As if being husband and wife weren’t challenging enough roles….

Well a few evenings ago, my car was broken into and ransacked. I had $6 sitting in a cup holder that was stolen, but that was the only thing missing. In fact, the scariest part about this whole ordeal is the day before, I had tucked my wallet into the back seat of the driver’s side before going swimming, to avoid having my wallet stolen at the pool. It was still in the backseat, untouched, despite obviously having our car tossed by some thief. You’d think we would have just counted our blessings that no one was hurt and that my wallet was miraculously saved, but no. I have to admitt there was a argument. Why didn’t I lock the car doors? If I thought they were locked, why didn’t I double check them to be sure? Why did my hubsand park in the driveway, blocking the garage? Why didn’t he move his car, then pull my van into the garage for me? Really, the thief is to blame… even if the car doors had been wide open, you still don’t have the right to troll through a stranger’s personal belongings and take what you want. The reality is, hubs and I felt violated. The car was parked 4 feet from our front door. We are the protectors of our home, of the children God has given us, and we felt like we failed.

The longer we’re married, the more there will be to protect. Are the car doors locked? Do we live in a safe neighborhood? If our house vunerable to break-ins? Are we financially secure? Do we have enough food for the children? These questions will haunt us as we become home owners, as we have more children, as we get new jobs, and anything else life throws at us. The longer we are married though,  the more I learn.

Buuuuuuut this can be both a positive and a negative.

What I learn as a positive: I know that when my husband comes home from work, he is susally exhausted. If I have any hopes of getting him to help me with the baby or chores, I have to let him have at least 10 minutes to unwind and get settled for the evening. This is some thing I have learned over time that has helped me become a more patient wife and maintain peace in our household.

What I think I’ve learned as a negative : My husband is stubborn. Therefore, the next time he is acting stubborn, I will throw this fact in his face as a way of discrediting him and getting my way. Though it may be true that my husband is stubborn, no peace is kept by constantly bringing this character trait to surface.

What we learn during our time being married should be knowledge kept to maintain peace and love in the household, not wielded as weapons against one another. And it’s HARD. You think I don’t tell my husband he’s stubborn? I do. You think he doesn’t point out my flaws? He does. Some times we hold grudges and hurt feelings and anger in our hearts, because we are human. This is something we will face for the duration of our lives. Even if we learn to be more silent and patient with one another, I know at least for myself, it will always be a temptation. Luckily, our marriage is rooted in faith. We always joke about the sacrament of confession, how other churches don’t have it, probably because no one likes it. On the other hand, if no one likes it, it would be hard to argue that Catholics made it up just for fun. It is some thing so contrary to our fallen nature, that the only conclusion can be, that it must come from God. In confession we must take responsibility for our sins, we try to learn from them, then they are forgiven by our Father, and then we receive unimaginable sacramental grace from that one little act of humility. Well, as I said, marriage is also a sacrament. After an argument, my husband is ALWAYS the first to humbly come to me, take responsibility for thing things he said that were hurtful or unfair, this helps me learn more about him and the way he approaches conflict, and it also helps him learn about the areas in his soul that he needs to work on. Then there is forgiveness, and then there is grace. By his example, as head of the household, my heart is always softened to see my husband coming to me for reconciliation. Confession has surprisingly taught me a lot about marriage, and the peace I feel while walking out of that confessional, is the same peace I feel after my husband and I mimic the humility of confession after an argument. And even though I’ve been going to confession ever since I was 6 years old, it is still hard, and probably always will be.

Likewise, marriage is hard. It will always be hard, just as trying to live a virtuous life will always be hard… but thank God for grace.

I love you Justin! Happy Anniversary.

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Things I learned in my Twenties: Reflections on 23

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Yesterday I turned 24. I was trying to reflect on the year, specifically what I have learned, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot. I thought that after my first year of marriage, I knew all there was to know about sacrificial love. I stand corrected. After a year of parenthood, I REALLY feel like I know every thing about love and sacrifice. I know I will “stand corrected” on this topic for the rest of my life, probably until I die and witness the mystery of Love, Himself when I make my way through those pearly white gates. But I digress….

Instead of expanding on how much I don’t know, let me tell you what I do know. Love is hard. Some times is requires you to get up at 3 am, other times is requires you to listen to screaming that feels like it is going directly into your ear drum, as you hopelessly make efforts to soothe. Aside from suffering, it also takes humility. Love asks you to admit when you don’t know what you’re doing. Some times Love requires you to admit when you know exactly what you’re doing, because its the wrong thing, and you need correction. Some times you are the one lovingly suggesting a correction…

Love has many forms, but this year I have mostly seen it take on the form of parent and child. I would argue this is Love’s original form. Adam and the Father of Adam, God and the Son of God, the one correcting and the one being corrected, the one consoling and the one who needs consoling. I thought that by default, I’d always have the “parent role,” false. Many times I have the child role. My impulsive shopping needs correcting. My weary soul needs consolation…

What I’ve also learned is that neither role is particularly easy. The parent role requires stamina and patience while the child role requires humility and acceptance. Basically, there is no easy way to love. It drains you, it exercises parts of your soul that you’d probably prefer remained dormant. For many of us though, the childlikeness is particularly difficult. Afterall, we spend more of our lifetime as adults than we do as children and yet, the call to have a childlike spirit is unending however unnatural it may feel to us. The year of being 23 reinforced that for me. Even though I was a parent, I was not allowed to stop being a child, a child of God. When I am confronted, I must be honest. When I am scared, I must trust. When I need help, I must be humble. When I need to work on my flaws, I must be obedient. These are all virtues we expect of children and rarely apply them to ourselves.

If there is one way I can certainly teach my children these virtues, it is by example. That is what I learned in my 23rd year of life. I will head into year 24 with maturity, but also with the heart of a child.

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Romance.

The fall time always makes me reminisce about my relationship with my husband. We met in the fall of 2010, when I was just a sophomore in college, and he was starting graduate school. We met through mutual friends at a party, despite having seen each other multiple times on campus.

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[If you hadn’t guessed already, the theme of that party was “pink”]

We’ve changed a lot since then, but whenever the fall rolls around, the excitement of our young romance hangs in the air. Four years and a baby later, I can’t help but look back on my favorite pictures from that time. We met in August, and were married in August. Fall has always been a special time we’ve shared, and will continue to share, for the rest of our lives.

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