Thursday, December 18, 2014

as if you didn't know

I've been married for six (and a half!) years now.  I'm at a place in my marriage where loving my husband has become a choice I make, something I work towards.  Perhaps this sounds unromantic to newlyweds, but the days when love isn't an effortless rainbow in your life will happen.  In every companionship there comes a time when you have to make an active choice to love your partner.  I absolutely believe, though, that this is even more romantic than the adoration I felt when we were first dating or first married.  I know what David looks like when he's so sick he wants to die.  I know what sound his toenails make when they're being clipped.  I know that some things I say and do are so annoying that he can barely stand it.  I know these things, and I have chosen this love anyways.  I don't pretend to be an expert, but I have one theory that makes a big difference in my life.

I truly believe that the reason we love our children has nothing to do with carrying them in our bodies or sharing genetics and everything to do with the service we give to them every day.  I love Clark because I have to serve him. If it weren't for me, he would be hungry, bored, exhausted, and sitting in a dirty diaper.  It's this really beautiful cycle though, because the more I serve him, the more I love him, and the more I love him, the happier I am to serve him. When I put my own needs aside for someone else, my love for them grows.

Marriage works in the same way, except the service is a more conscious choice, which makes it harder.  I could argue that things like cleaning the house, doing dishes, washing laundry, and caring for his son are acts of service that I do for David, but truthfully, those things benefit me just as much as they benefit him.  I would do them even if he wasn't around.  Marriage requires extra steps, ones that are sometimes inconvenient, that end up helping me feel more love towards David.

The other day I was putting laundry away and I noticed what a complete mess his side of the closet was.  My knee jerk reaction was to make a mental note to ask him to clean it out, but then I thought about his life: he's working 50+ hour weeks, he's in school, he's maxed out.  He doesn't have the time.  My schedule could be arranged to help him out.  I cleaned out his side of the closet, it looked amazing, and he was so grateful when he got home. I've thought about it a lot since then. It was an extra step that showed him I had been thinking about him that day, and it made me love him more because I was serving him.

I know this might sound old-fashioned and sexist, but it's totally not.  The more I serve David, the more loved he feels, and the more he's inclined to serve me in return, which makes me feel more loved.  It's like this big, cheesy cycle of acts of service, which sometimes look like bouquets of flowers and lingerie and date nights but also sometimes look like a shoulder rub during a panic attack or a roll of toilet paper handed through the bathroom door or stumbling down the hall to get Joony out of bed so one of us can sleep for an extra 20 minutes.  It's something outside of the routine that doesn't benefit the person doing the service even a little bit.  I'm not perfect at this--sometimes I go days and weeks without remembering to go out of my way to do a kindness for David.  A lot of times he'll do something for me that reminds me how long it's been since I've served him.  But when I remember, I'm so much more content in my marriage.

If you're interested in this idea, a few years ago I did The Husband Project with a few girlfriends and it was fun and eye-opening (and neat to do it together so we could check in with each other). The title and cover of the book are a bit of an eye roll, but it ended up being a great read.  It laid out 21 days of little projects and assignments, and as I did them, I really found myself feeling closer to David and looking for new ways to show him my love.  I've thought about it a lot since then.  It really impacted the way I look at my marriage (no sponsored shenanigans here btw).

Monday, December 15, 2014

sugar sugar


 Tina's special box perch on the kitchen table

 Waiting for them to bake/cool

I'm trying to be better about including Clark in household chores and activities.  He's usually pretty content to play Hot Wheels while I work, and I get things done quickly that way, but he lights up when I remember to include him.  It ends up taking 10x as long (I could have whipped these cookies out in an hour or so on my own), but watching him carefully measure out a million quarter cups of flour was so sweet. He even helped wipe down the counters and tidy up afterwards!  What a pal.  I like this recipe for imitation Swig sugar cookies, although it's a bit frustrating that the frosting measurements aren't exact--it's hard for me to get it just right every time.  Joony loves his "shoo cookies" and is so proud he got to be a part of the baking process.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I love you and I like you

I mean, look at this guy. What a little gentleman.
P.S. I won this dress in a Shabby Apple Instagram giveaway, and it makes me feel like $1 million.  
Joony gets his bow ties from my friend Alex's shop The Splendid Bow and he always gets compliments on them (not sponsored, just a friend's awesome Etsy shop!).

I had a long day with Clark today.  He was bossy and grumpy and I felt impatient and frustrated that I couldn't keep him happy.  We were just out of sync, and I know we felt tired of one another's company.  I let him take one or two toys to bed every night--usually Hot Wheels, something that doesn't make noise--and tonight he had a plastic school bus (a "cool-buh").  When I set him in his bed, he immediately chucked it at my face.  I told him good night, and he asked so politely: "Mom...cool buh, please?"  I thought, okay, whatever, and handed it back to him...and he immediately threw it back in my face.  It had been such a long day and I felt so tired and defeated, I just snapped "Fine. I'm done with you.  Go to bed."  No singing, no back rubbing, no "Do you know your mom loves you?" like we usually do, I just walked out of his room.  The minute I came downstairs I sat on the couch, felt a wave of guilt, and started sobbing.  How evil am I?  He's two.  Of course he isn't logical, I'm supposed to be the logical one here...and I'm storming out of his room and crying.

Dave gently suggested I go on a drive, so I stopped at McDonalds for a Dr. Pepper and a cookie (because isn't that how all adults handle bad days?) before driving a wide loop through the farms surrounding our town and talking to my dad on the phone.  I felt like this driving cliche, a frizzy-haired braless mom pounding a Dr. Pepper and sniffling and being all I just need to get out of the house right-freaking-now.  I hated the feeling.

I just feel exhausted by this stage in Clark's life.  He is so cute and so fun (today he called blueberries "boobies" and I'm still laughing about it), but this personality that's emerging is independent and opinionated, too, and some days it's so hard for us to coexist.  I don't feel like there's a lot of advice for how to handle discipline in this specific age range--he's not quite old enough for "You lose this privilege now!" and obviously he's not a baby anymore.  I never know how to respond when people ask how Joony is doing.  "He's good.  He's hard, like really hard, and we fight a lot.  But he's so cute, and here's a funny thing he said the other day, and he's also so frustrating, you know?  I love him so much it makes me want to cry right now just talking about it."  How do I hold onto these amazing, sweet days where we get to spend all our time together without also exploding because we're spending all our time together?

Well, I wrote a similar post back in August, so I guess this is regularly scheduled programming around here.  In the comments, Kate linked to this article, which is really sweet and encouraging.  My favorite line: "Having rules and expectations doesn't squelch kids. Not liking them does. And if I hate being around them because they are totally untrained and insufferable then I might be tempted to just let them play video games all day and avoid their company.  That's why I discipline my kids the way I do, so that we love being around each other. Hopefully other people like being around them too."  I'm making a renewed effort to work on this in my house.
Including these outtakes from our family Christmas pictures because my hair is a windy mess and it was freezing cold, but Clark was still being such a cheeseball. I loved it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

we sing it proudly

Ten Things I Am Deeply Happy About:

1. We decorated for Christmas! David had been getting blue about the col weather, and he said this cheered him up. The blanket of snow outside made it feel like just the right time for holiday cheer.

2. Tina sleeps on her back and lets me rub her belly while she purrs and sleep! Cat bellies are scientifically proven to be one of the best things on the planet.  I love having her snuggled up to my lap while I do homework and/or watch Broad City.


3. Lemon Zucchini bread, which makes my kitchen smell am.a.zing. I baked it twice in less than a week to wrap up and give as gifts to friends. It seems like a summer recipe, but really, when in the year is lemony zucchini bread a bad idea?



4. Next semester's textbooks! I'm taking a David Sedaris class, a Women and Poetry class, and a Flash Fiction class.


Me:

5. Babies to shop for! Is there anything better than heading into Target with a newborn or a one year old or a niece to shop for? I had to talk myself out of spending over $50 on a Frozen costume and a massive stuffed snow man (Olaf? I think?) to send to my niecey-poo for her second birthday.

6. Amy Poehler's book Yes Please.  I'm listening to the audio book, which isn't usually how I read books, but the digital consortium that I'm subscribed to only had the audio version.  Well, I'm blown away. I've laughed, I've sobbed, I've just felt like Amy's best friend as she tells me about her life while I drive around town.  You have to read this book...and if you can, you should listen to it.  Bonus! There's a chapter written AND READ BY Seth Meyers, and he is the funniest.

7. Visiting teachers. They come to my house and laugh with me and pray for me and it makes me feel so loved and looked after.

8. Clark's Halloween costume (still).  These pictures of him as the littlest construction worker make me smile every time I click through them.

9. Date nights in.  Both of us being loaded up with homework means that we can't spend all night partying on the town like we used to (read: dinner at Applebee's and a movie, because Rexburg).  Instead, we make dinner, crack a bottle of Martinelli's (sexy sexy!) and watch an episode of Jimmy Fallon before retiring to our offices for homework time.  It's actually really nice and I daresay we appreciate the time together more now because we're both so busy.

10. My laptop screen cracked (not happy), so I'm sharing the desktop with David, and it has dual monitors. Dual monitors are my spirit animal.  There is so much space for all the tabs and documents and Pandora stations!  I feel free as a dang bird with dual monitors.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

you've cat to be kitten me right meow

The newest Haynes family member:
Tina the kitten!
She also goes by: Teen-teen, Teeny Tina, Kitten Cat, Kitty Purry, Fat Lard, and Smitten Kitten.We love nicknames.

This has been almost seven years in the making. Seven!  Every few months, I find a kitten up for adoption that my heart just beats faster for.  I email David pictures in the middle of his work day, I beg, I promise things, I try so hard to make it happen, and every time we just can't reach a compromise.  For 5.5 years, the problem was that we were renting, but we own now.  We own this dang house, and if we decide we want a cat in it, we can make that happen!

So. I saw this adorable little tortoiseshell dreamboat of a kitten on Craigslist.  Something in me knew she would be the most perfect little addition.  David and I spent a date night talking in circles, him worrying about allergies and litter boxes and claws scratching furniture, and me swearing up and down that he would enjoy a kitten so much more than he thought he would.  I started to feel hopeless, but then...then a compromise was reached.  We did it!  Sometimes marriage is just like that.  You think you'll never understand one another, and then you accidentally find a compromise that makes you both go "Oh...I could do that!"

Our compromise was a trial week.  If David's allergies went bananas, if the sofa got shredded, if there was cat pee anywhere outside of that litter box, it was a no go.  She had to be perfect.  Luckily, the cutest lady was looking for a home and was willing to work with our unusual trial run.  When she brought the kitten over, I was so nervous.  I gave her a stern talking-to.  "There's a lot riding on you right now! You better keep your crap together, sister!"  Oh my gosh, you guys, she totally did though.  She's a dream!  She barely sheds.  Litter box is no sweat.  She got brave enough to come out from under the couch and she pounced and raced around for Dave, and then cuddled and purred for me.

Long story long, she stays.  She is the best, sweetest, most adorable little Teen-teen that ever lived...too bad I gave up my Cats & Cardigans identity, amiright? Whatever. The weirdo creep of a cat lady in me is so busy rubbing my napping kitty's belly to even care about anything but her drooly kitten purrs.

Oh! And the Joony verdict: he's obsessed, she's terrified.  He follows her slowly around the living room, arm outstretched, meowing, while she scoots away, terrified.  It's hilarious. When I'm holding her and he pets her, though, he's so gentle.  He loves her! I think he's just too loud and quick for her liking right now.  We'll get there.

I HAVE A CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats


The first snow in Idaho always feels magical.  I do all the things you do in inclement weather: put on my cozy slipper socks, pour a mug of something warm and comforting, play soft music in the background as I make a pot of soup.  Every year I gaze out the window and think that the place I live is so beautiful, so serene, so separated from big city hustle.  I think that this year will be different.  This year I will remember to enjoy the snow all winter long.  I will bundle up and enjoy the crisp, clean winter air smell.  I will find creative things to do inside with Clarkjoon and savor each and every day.

As soon as Christmas is over, though, I'm done being poetic about the snow and how it sits so perfectly on tree branches.  It turns grey and slushy and icy and every year, at least once, I slip and fall flat on my back and curse the very ground I walk on while the air is knocked clean out of me.

All of October was beautiful here--sun shining, park weather, cool breeze.  We got a whole bonus month of Idaho's famous summer and I don't think Joon and I spent enough of it outside, but we still appreciated it.  We went trick or treating in tee shirts! Unheard of.  It was wonderful.  The minute it turned into November, though, our luck ran out and it turned cold.  Clark keeps bringing me his shoes and asking to go walk outside, and I've bundled him up a few times to go push his tractor around in the dirt, but after a minute or two his fingers and nose turn pink and I worry about the ebolas floating around (just kidding, I worry about frost bite and colds).

Last night, David and I got all gloomy.  Our forecast shows winter is moving in fast tonight--it'll be Idaho winter by the end of the week, and we both felt like we weren't ready for the heaters and the layers and the indoor activities.  David worried starting his MBA program back in September stole two dirt biking months from him (it totally did), and this morning the first layer of snow had fallen.

The thing is, though, I'm still smitten with the cold. You guys, I really think this year will be different! I have school to keep me motivated during the winter months, Joony understands more than he did last year and we have gymnastics class and library trips, we have a kitten joining our family (I'm talking an actual feline kitten, I'm not using a cutesy euphemism to hint at a pregnancy here), this could be it!  This could be the year I actually fall in love with the winter! All signs are pointing to me waltzing around my kitchen and humming Winter Wonderland (but not Baby, It's Cold Outside because the Scrooge in me cannot ignore how creepy and rape-y that song is) while my Teccino brews.  I'll keep you posted.  This is it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

that's how it works

Five Things I Love Lately:

1. Fall TV! Mindy Project is back (FAVORITE FAVORITE EVERY EPISODE FAVORITE), New Girl is back (what are we thinking about it this season? It went downhill FAST last season, but it might be getting better?), Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back (I love anything Andy Samberg does, Hot Rod being #1 on that list). It's such a happy time for my Hulu queue and my nap/lunch time chill sesh.

2. I submitted my first workshop pieces yesterday, and you guys, the other students are saying nice things so far! I wrote one thing about Halloween and one thing about weaning-induced depression and both were so scary to post.  It's always so intimidating to share art, isn't it?  "Oh, here's a piece of my soul.  It's honest and vulnerable and I'm looking forward to your criticisms, strangers!"

3. OBVIOUSLY I'm about to blog about Taylor Swift's new album. Bought that puppy the day it dropped and haven't stopped listening. Clarkjoon loves "Welcome to New York" and does the funniest arm-twist dance when it comes on.  I love "How You Get The Girl."

4. Seeker of Happiness tote bags. Not the first time I've gushed about Carrie's awesome bags, but I'm going to do it again...because I use these babies for everything, and the latest ones she sent me are EVEN BIGGER than before. What?! Short list of occasions I use SOH bags on:
- Grocery shopping. Who needs a side eye when they go to the Natural Grocer because they forgot their reusable bags? Not me. And these ones even make the occasionally grumpy cashiers smile!
- Super Saturday! I'm on the Relief Society (women's group) activities committee in my church, and we recently held a craft afternoon. I had, to understate it, so. much. crap. to transport from my house to the church gym. Tote bags to the rescue! I even put my laptop in one, straps held up great, boom.
- Library time...because Joon insists on bringing home every single book with a train, plane, car, truck, or tractor that he can get his chubby mitts on. My purse alone doesn't cut it on library days.
- Trick or treating! Huzzah! Joony refuses to put a costume on this year, so I think we're going to be that kind of lame family showing up in regular clothes like, "Just give him some candy, he doesn't quite get Halloween yet." At least he'll have an awesome tote to make up for his lack of costume and, most likely, refusal to say anything on command...which will probably include "Trick or treat!"

5. Grapes. My best healthy eating tip: pull all your grapes off their stems, wash them, and put them in a big bowl in the refrigerator.  It cuts down on "HOLYCOW I'M SO HUNGRY I'LL EAT THE NEXT THING MY HANDS TOUCH" potato chip consumption because I can eat a handful of grapes while I think about what healthy thing I should be eating. Just call me your resident health food expert, mmkay.