Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall Stuff.

Squeaking in a third post for October.  A sad showing this month indeed. But, it's been filled with lots of great stuff--as October's are supposed to be.  Mainly boots, scarves, and sweaters.  And then other great things…….

Like school field trips.
And there's something so much more relaxing about them when I'm not the teacher in charge.  That is hard work people.  I promise.

And of course……Halloween.
This Wizard of Oz thing has staying power.  Georgia's third birthday party was a Wizard of Oz theme.  She'll turn five next spring and it's still going strong.  She wanted to be Dorothy this year and I was great with that because we've had everything you need to be Dorothy or Glinda or the Tin Man or the Wicked Witch or a Flying Monkey for years.  A cost-free Halloween!

Parker and Georgia.  These two.  She told our babysitter that she was probably going to marry him; Fiona wouldn't be allowed to because she's his sister.  She says that a lot.  I think she's relieved to be rid of whatever competition she can.  

Hope you had a great night.  November tomorrow!  Whoosh--Christmas is coming! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Date Nights"

I have a love/hate relationship with "date nights."  It's similar to how I feel about my birthday and New Year's Eve.

Let me explain.

Side note:  I think they're important.  No doubt about it.  The reasons are obvious; especially if you have kids or extremely demanding jobs that result in scattered time together. That's not what this post is about.

It's about the pressure.  The same pressure that rolls around every late December or early October (in my case).

"So......what amazing thing do you have planned for New Years?"
" don't have anything big planned? Just hanging out with some friends at home?"
"We're celebrating New Year's with Ryan Seacrest on top of the Empire State Building while taking in a private Beyonce show to be followed by a toast at midnight with Justin Timberlake."
"You know.....just something simple that we decided to do this year."

"Soooo, it's your birthday!"
"Are you going to have a big party?"
"You're not?  You don't love big huge surprise parties that cost $700?"

And the same kind of thing happens when it comes to "date nights."
I remember one day about five years ago I was lamenting an incredibly crazy week at work to someone.  I'd worked till eight or nine each night, two of those nights had been parent teacher conferences, one was grad class that actually lasted until ten, I had a horrible cold, we'd run all over town for adoption fingerprinting, doctor's appointments, and pet vaccination paperwork, and I was beat.  This well intended individual asked what we were going to do for the weekend to re-coop.

"Honestly," I said, "I want to lay on the couch and watch mindless television and hit up our favorite Mexican restaurant in a sweatshirt and baseball hat on Saturday night."

"You guys should get away.  Drive up to Traverse City (a three hour drive), get a great room, go wine tasting (I loathe wine), and just live it up,"was the response.

Hearing her describe a weekend like that after a week like I'd had made me want to gouge my eyes out and I'd venture to say it would have been detrimental to our marriage instead of helpful.

And I've had similar responses from people when I mention we're going to go to dinner and a movie again,  that we're not going out of town for our anniversary, or that we haven't specifically gone out just the TWO of us in a month and stared longingly into each other's eyes over fondue (as if I could talk Chris into a fondue restaurant?).

And I've started to wonder where all this pressure comes from.  It's like "dates" have to all of a sudden be Pinterest worthy too.  And frankly, it's exhausting.

I repeat.
It's crucial and non-negotiable for couples to spend quality one-on-one time together.  But why do we all of a sudden have so many parameters and made up definitions of what that time must consist of in order for it to count as a "date." Even the word itself.  It's as over-used as man-cave.

I start feeling like the two of us playing backgammon (Yep. We do that.  Because we're that cool......) on the living room floor or watching a movie or just talking in the kitchen while we clean up the day isn't enough and I get this false restless feeling because I've been told we should be doing more.  Even though I'm perfectly happy doing all of the things I previously mentioned.....because it just feels like us.........I start listening to all those Pinteresters of dating and that horrible monster, comparison,  starts to creep in. And where I was once happy and content and peaceful, now I'm frustrated that we're not going to some five star restaurant and a horseback ride along the coast.  Or a hot air balloon ride.  Or a box seat at the symphony.  Or a ballroom dance.  Or......just something different than what we're comfortable doing.

So we all just need to stop.  Stop putting the pressure on.  Let people be comfortable doing what they do.

Like dinner and a movie.  We saw "Jobs" this night.  We talked about it for 45 minutes afterwards.  Dinner and a movie.  I will always stand by that as the best date option ever.    

And there was this night..... (about two months later and Chris is wearing the same shirt.....I guess the mall should be on the agenda for our next night out)......dinner downtown......and some art at an art competition in our city.

And sometimes.......a lot of times.....we choose to do this........

Because it's honestly where we're happiest.  And I'm pretty sure that's okay.  

There's a lot of reasons to go on big extravagant, knock-your-socks off nights out.  There's even more reasons to make sure you're spending time together in a way that works for you.  Even if it's simple and under-stated.  

And especially if it's authentic.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This Season.

I turned 36 yesterday.  

Chris was out of town, Georgia and I went to the library and to the apple orchard for lunch, and I felt restless.  Just a little cranky and uncomfortable. 

Not because it was my birthday.  I could honestly care less about birthdays.  I've never been a big birthday party girl.  In fact my best birthday party happened by accident when my seventeenth fell on Homecoming Dance night my senior year of high school and the DJ had the crowd sing happy birthday to me.  

That's been tiding me over for years.  

No, I think that itchy-in-my-own skin feeling just comes from the season of life that I'm in now....thirty sixth birthday or not.  I wonder........and I debate.........and I weigh the pros and cons..........of so many things.  The size of our family, if I'm involved in enough 'stuff' to feel like I'm making meaningful contributions to my own family and those around me, if I'm a patient enough mom, if I should do more to grow my career or rest where I'm at for a bit, if I worry too much about things I can't control, if, if, if.  And also really important things like, 'why can't I find some wall paper I like for the 1/2 bath?'

And after I spend a day feeling irritable about these things and why I can't conjure up some solid answers to them I give myself a little 'get over yourself' speech and think about the things I have that couldn't be any more solid.  

Like this girl. 

And cousins and great-grandparents. 

And four year olds who are best best friends and even though they spend almost everyday of their lives together always need one more hug from each other before leaving.  

Rainy afternoons and puffy paint. 

Lazy Wednesday mornings. 

And about a million more things that I thought about during my break from this place over the last month.  

There are always going to be seasons that feel too full of the unknown, too fluid, and too unsettling--but in the midst of all of that you can always find some roots.  Cultivate those.  And the more that you do, the more they'll become the things that matter the most anyway.  

Good to be back here.  
Happy 36th birthday to me.  
And just for fun...........

Me.  30 years ago.  That's right--I had no hair--it just wouldn't mom tried everything.  Awesome. 

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