when trashy tv brings families together

It has been a hoppin' few days over here. On Saturday night, James and I went on our third date of the past 25 1/2 months. We went bowling and out for pizza. I don't know the last time I went bowling, but we had THE BEST time. It took me back to my middle and high school days when my friends and I would gather at the local run-down bowling alley. I have some fond memories of dancing to Milkshake by Kelis while probably wearing some heinous frosted eyeshadow and some watermelon roll-on body glitter from Bath & Body Works. My bowling hasn't improved since then, but at least my makeup has.

Needless to say, we had a ball. Literally and figuratively.

On Sunday, my mother-in-law rolled into town. You've all heard the stories by now (these stories too). She is a kind and generous woman, but she has no filter. You never know what you're going to get with her, but the one thing you can bank on is a headache.

Within minutes of arriving, she looked at me and said "so, have you potty trained Gracie yet?" We spent the rest of the night arguing about how she got here. She said she was lost because she never made it onto highway 12. I told her that's because there is no highway 12 in Ohio. She was adamant that she drove here on highway 12 last time she came, but even a map didn't convince her she was wrong. We easily figured out which highways she was on, but she still didn't believe us, saying she drove through towns that are on the opposite side of the state. It's truly a wonder she made it here at all.

Upon coming downstairs Monday morning, she asked James and me to one day swirl her ashes in a "beautiful glass paperweight" like she saw in a video on Facebook a few months prior. That's not a request I can bring myself to fulfill, so I may just have the paperweight shipped somewhere on the illusive highway 12.

I was drowsily eating my watermelon greek yogurt a little later while she flipped through pictures on her phone to show to Gracie. "There's your mama, there's your daddy, oh! And there's the beach where you were made!" That woke me up better than my coffee. I dropped my spoon and said "um, excuse me?"

"That's the beach where you conceived Gracie. I thought Gracie should see a picture."

3 years ago we spent a few days at the Outerbanks with my MIL. It was at least three weeks before I got pregnant, but she is not the first person to assume that's where I got pregnant. I can say without a doubt that it is not, even though I shouldn't have to say any of that to begin with. I quickly explained the timing was all wrong, and no, that definitely was not the time nor the place.

"Yes it was. It was about 9 months before she was born. I'm just so glad I contributed to her birth."

And there went the rest of my appetite.

James had to work that evening, so I spent a frenzied few hours trying to calm a crying, teething toddler and teaching my MIL, who insisted on cooking dinner for us, how to use an electric stove and also how to turn an oven on. On top of it, I was also dealing with a mild bout of food poisoning from dinner the night before that didn't agree with me too well.

We both laid on the couch later that evening, and I was gearing up for another stretch of the murder mystery shows she insists on watching, because according to her, the only shows worth watching are full of "murder and lots of mayhem." Instead, she said "doesn't The Bachelorette come on tonight? And Dancing With the Stars?" I immediately perked up. "Yes. Yes they are on tonight."

"Do you want to watch?"
"I mean, sure, do you want to watch?"
"Well, if you want to, I guess we should."

Within minutes we were laughing together and screaming "I LOVE THAT SONG" in perfect unison when Uptown Funk started playing. Sure she talked over all the interviews, but her commentary was priceless. Watching the men come out of the limo with her was the highlight of the night. "OH HOW I LOVE MY LATINO MEN" was something she yelled more than once. I have never seen her like that and it was incredible. James came home looking mildly stunned to see us giggling like schoolgirls together.

This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship, I thought to myself.

Until I woke up at 7:30 this morning to find her in my room, standing over my bed staring at me.



+ My cold is finally getting better, but my body is still on the fritz. I woke up Monday with a migraine and yesterday with an ear infection. After two blessed, blissful months of effortless sleep, my insomnia is creeping back as well. James is fighting a sinus infection and vertigo, and Gracie is in the middle of teething hell. None of us is at our best right now. I'm convinced hell is made up of teething toddlers. The Bible does talk about weeping and gnashing of teeth, so I think it's a pretty logical assumption to make.

+ Has anyone been watching the new Anne of Green Gables on Netflix? I have one or two episodes  left. I have so many thoughts I could write a stack of essays. Parts I love, parts I absolutely hate. I'll write this as vaguely as possible so I don't give away any spoilers. I don't appreciate how dark it is at all. I miss Anne's optimism and innocence. I think Miss Montgomery would disapprove. If this miniseries was my first intro to Anne, I would not have grown up loving her the way I did. The casting, however, is so good. Matthew and Marilla are spot on, Anne's age is more accurate (but I am NOT a fan of the actress), and I don't even hate Gilbert. I took personal offense to how far off-book it got, but once I decided to stop comparing it to the book and original movie, I found myself enjoying it more. The moral of the story is Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie forever. Amen.

+ Sunday was both Mother's Day and our 6th anniversary. It was a pretty low-key day, but it was just what I wanted. We went out for frozen yogurt and played at the park. I FaceTimed into a family reunion bbq in California. James got me pancakes for dinner and made me a huge batch of iced coffee with this new-fangled iced coffee brewer he gave me, which was the best gift ever. Gracie gave me a kitchen egg timer. James said she picked it out herself and everything. She banged it so hard on the table that it's already broken, but it occupied her for 30 seconds, so it really was a gift for me even though she won't let me use it.

+ If any of you need to entertain your toddler, get out their old infant carseat. I was cleaning out Gracie's closet the other day, and she found her old carseat. She has been buckling Pooh Bear and rocking him in it all day. She wants to make sure it's in the same room as us all day. I thought my days of lugging that thing were over, but apparently not. Thankfully Pooh Bear weighs much less than a 6 month old. 

+ Yesterday turned out to be full of scary excitement. It was hot and sunny, so Gracie and I played at the park and went on a long walk. As I was putting her down for her afternoon nap, we heard dozens of sirens going by. We live off a busy road so hearing sirens isn't unusual, but they would not stop coming for about 20-30 minutes. I knew something more than a car accident had gone down, but I couldn't find anything online and nothing was on the news. I sat down with a glass of iced coffee and Anne of Avonlea when I heard helicopters. I kept waiting for them to fly away, but they were just hovering directly over our building. I went outside and could tell they were from the local news stations, but I still couldn't find anything online. About ten minutes later, I finally saw an article that said there was a condo fire directly behind us. I threw my sandals on and ran about a 1/4 mile down the road. There's a pond in the middle of our complex, and on one side there are several condo buildings. One of them was completely engulfed in flames. I was stunned. There were firemen climbing out of windows and jumping off balconies. Cameramen from the news stations were standing right next to me filming the whole thing. I could see flames through the windows of the third floor and the roof was caving in. I've never seen anything like that in my life. I couldn't stay long since I didn't want to leave Gracie alone while she was asleep, but I ran into two of our maintenance men on the way back. They were the first to see the fire and called 911, and they showed me pictures of the whole thing. Gracie and I walked over after dinner. The building was still smoldering and the smoke alarms were still going off. It was completely eerie. All the people made it out and the firemen rescued all the animals, so thankfully no one was hurt. 

My house burning down is one of my biggest fears in life and always has been. Our house was miraculously spared from a wildfire when I was 11, and that has only heightened my fear of fire. This hit entirely too close to home. I watched a show last night to get my mind off the whole thing, and of course the entire episode was about a raging house fire. So comforting! My parents were in California at the time, and texted me in the middle of the night that they were hit with a pretty decent earthquake. It was a big day for all of us, but thankfully we are all fine. 

+ A few months ago, we got a text from my MIL that very plainly said she would be visiting us in May and she will be staying with us and sleeping on our couch. No questions, no room for debate. D-Day happens to be Sunday, so I'll be cleaning, organizing, and stocking up on migraine medicine until further notice.


everything you've been told about marriage is a lie

Ok, I'll admit, that was a bit of a hyperbolic title.

In honor of our 6th anniversary on Sunday, I thought I would refute the three biggest pieces of marriage advice so many people gave us and that we read. We all know that the 6th anniversary is the year we achieve marriage perfection and complete understanding of human relationships, so obviously I am very qualified to write this.

I know this advice is actually pretty good advice and useful in many situations, but it's not applicable to every marriage, personality, or season of life.

1. Have routine date nights. A former coworker of mine used to go out with his wife for a fancy dinner and movie every single Wednesday and pay a babysitter to watch their two kids. That is a lot of money every single week, not to mention I feel like it wouldn't be as special if you do it that often. In the last 25 months of parenthood, James and I have gone on exactly two dates. TWO. Several people said something to me about how shocked they are that we're still married. I know they were mostly joking, but society does tend to tell us that we have to go on special dates in order to keep a happy marriage. There is nothing wrong with date nights! They are awesome and fun, and we're going on one soon. But you know what? Ordering a pizza and watching a movie when the baby is in bed is really fun and cheap. And you can wear pajamas. And you're spending time together. We've become pros at the at-home date night. And we're still married and don't hate each other! Shocking, right?

One night at Mops last fall, an older married couple did a talk on having a happy marriage. They were HUGE on the date night. This was before we had even gone on one date since Gracie was born, so this was a sore topic for me. She said this is an absolute must for a happy marriage. She said it's also important to go on a vacation alone together at least once a year. I was fuming by this point and planning to ask her if she wanted to contribute funds to that, because that is so not even possible right now. I went home and told James our marriage is doomed to failure because we've never gone on a vacation alone together and we don't do regular date nights. The more I've thought about it, the more annoyed I am that this is typically the first piece of advice for any marriage. Date nights are awesome and help us reconnect as human adults and not just as co-parents, but if that's what it takes for you to stay happily married, maybe there's a problem. Making time for each other is very important, but it doesn't have to be a night out with a babysitter. They are a luxury, not a necessity.

2. Don't go to bed angry. This is probably the most common advice we got, from our pastor to multiple strangers. Don't let the sun go down on your anger, and all that. It's in the Bible! During pre-marital counseling, our pastor told us this was one of the most important things for us to remember. He said he and his wife would fight all night, with him angrily jumping on the bed whisper-screaming to make sure they worked it out (that image has never left me and often makes me feel awkward). To go to sleep would be giving up. When we were looking at an apartment for James to move into while we were engaged, the landlord told us working out our issues before bed was the key to a happy marriage. I've always thought this was weird advice. When we fight, there is a 99% chance it will happen around bedtime when we're exhausted and cranky. The longer we stay up and fight, the worse it gets. We turn into hideous, sleep-deprived monsters. If we just--gasp--go to sleep instead of letting it escalate, it solves a lot of problems. 9 times out of 10, we'll look at each other in the morning when we're clear headed and immediately apologize for being selfish idiots. I think this advice probably has more to do with dealing with your issues and not letting them go, but people take it very literally.

In the interest of full disclosure, the evening after I started writing this, we had a heated bedtime argument. I was about ready to scrap this whole post because it was all I could do to not run laps around the room yelling and shouting until he saw things my way. I forced myself to chill out, we fell asleep, and then we laughed it off before he left for work the next morning. I told him I was thinking about writing this post, and he immediately mentioned this advice as not particularly helpful for us. I know it is for some people, and some things are worth staying up over, but I'm speaking in generalities here so just calm down.

3. Having kids will tear your marriage apart. Maybe. I don't know. I've heard and read so many times that having kids is the biggest test of your marriage. This is probably true to an extent as your lives are completely turned upside down, and I know of couples who have struggled after having kids. But that was not us. I think our first few years of marriage were SO MUCH HARDER than the last few. Having a baby gave us a common goal and reshifted our priorities. There were of course some heated fights in the middle of the night over who would deal with the screaming newborn, but I felt like it realigned us. I know this isn't true for all couples, and if we had another kid I could completely eat these words, but I think our marriage has been so much stronger since having Gracie. And that's WITHOUT a regular date night ;)

What do you think? Agree or disagree? I love hearing what people think about these sorts of things!

In honor of our anniversary, if you've never read about our borderline disastrous wedding, you probably should:
ceremony drama
epic reception saga
stranded in a foreign country on our honeymoon


when it rains it pours, and when it pours it floods

You know how every power in the universe seems to work together to keep me from going to that Bible Study? Last week I wondered what on earth would come up to keep me from going this week. 

I got my answer yesterday morning when I woke up with the heat of a thousand wildfires in my throat, complete with tornados of glass shards. My eyeballs ache, my ears ache, my entire body hurts, and my nose weighs 37 pounds. I am in complete and total misery. I know it's called the common cold, but there should be nothing common about debating between taking a chainsaw to your nose or just throwing yourself off a tall mountain.

Not only did I wake up with the world's most malicious cold, it was one of those days straight from the pit of hell. Every little thing went wrong. Gracie's last two teeth decided to choose yesterday to start tormenting her, resulting in a hunger strike and constant screams and tears. She fell and skinned her knee and then hit her head on a stair rail. Her beloved piece of blue sidewalk chalk (the only one she'll draw with) rolled off the balcony and into a bush I can't get it out of. I dragged her to the store for cold medicine and had to carry her on my hip (God forbid you put her in a cart or ask her to walk) from the pharmacy to the Kleenex aisle, which is LITERALLY the furthest point possible from the pharmacy in an absolutely gigantic store. Which leads me to my rant: WHY are tissues not near the pharmacy? They're what every sick person needs! But no, Meijer, you think it makes sense to wedge them next to the sugar and across from the refrigerated dairy section in the back corner of the store. You never think about these things and how huge these stores are until you're weak from sickness and holding a screaming baby. 

I picked up a bowl of soup at Panera on the way home to soothe my throat, which did the trick even though Gracie ate most of it. I put Gracie down for her nap and she immediately went to sleep. I felt so awful I couldn't even bring myself to read; I stared at the wall for a full hour and a half until the gardeners revved up their leaf blowers and woke Gracie up 30-60 minutes early. The day continued in a downward spiral of crying, sloppy joe meat all over the carpet, and me yelling when I shouldn't have. I ended the day sobbing at an episode of Call the Midwife and opening a greek yogurt bar that promptly fell off the stick right onto my phone and blanket. 

James got home as I was going to bed, and he told me the water heater leaked again and soaked everything around it. After downing some cold medicine, I put in a maintenance request. I fell into bed and hardly slept. The medicine didn't do a thing, and I woke up over and over drowning in snot and trying not to suffocate. I was lying on the couch in my pajamas this morning, surrounded by towers of dirty tissues, when the maintenance man knocked on the door. I had totally forgotten. Serves me right for putting in a request after drinking a shot of NyQuil. 

The maintenance men here have never seen me at anything other than my absolute worst. They've walked in on me in the shower, nursing a newborn, and in the process of getting dressed. Today, he walked in and immediately said "you're going to need to move those shelves in your pantry so we can get the water heater out. I'm still 99% sure it wasn't necessary, but I followed orders. I was dizzy, weak, and still not completely sure if I was dreaming this whole thing or what reality is thanks to my daytime cold medicine, but I heaved and pushed and pulled and got the two substantial bookcases we store our food on out of the pantry/laundry room. All I wanted was a hot, steamy shower to clear my congestion, but not only did we not have hot water, we had no water. They turned it off and then left for over an hour.

Of course, lunchtime hit and my kitchen was full of shelving, ladders, buckets, and tarps. Gracie got an appetizing meal of peanuts, several blueberries, and smashed cereal bar from my purse. It was all I could reach in the chaos, plus tomorrow is grocery day so we were running on empty anyway. The maintenance man finally returned, and despite the fact that I was curled up on the couch in my fortress of blankets and kleenex boxes, he walked in and told me all about the renovations they're doing on the pool, and how he feels so bad for everyone who wants to use the hot tub but can't because it's broken, but he can't fix it because he's stuck working on my water heater instead. AS IF THIS IS MY FAULT. If I can't sleep tonight, it will either be because my cold medicine didn't work again or the guilt that I kept people from twenty minutes of fun in the hot tub. 

The good news is that James took tomorrow off so I can rest and he can get groceries for me, because I don't know if you've heard but I'M REALLY SICK. And clearly handling it like a pro. Gracie has been so healthy, but I've had more viruses in her short life than I have in the past 28 years. I can't help but wonder if all this sickness would go away if I just stopped trying to go to Bible Studies.


spring hygge

Looking back on yesterday's post, I realized that it came off far more melodramatic than I intended. I guess those are the hazards of blogging when you're insanely tired and emotionally spent. I am happy to report that we are hunkering down at home today, and that has been making all the difference.

We woke up to torrential downpours and temperatures in the 40s. I pulled up my weather app, and according to the hourly forecast, there's a 50-100% chance of rain every single hour (minus a short lull Saturday afternoon) until Sunday. I love rain, but it rained almost every day all winter, and I have a 2 year old to entertain. I felt my heart sink, and then I thought no. NO. I will not have that attitude! Thursday is my normal grocery day, but after surveying the fridge, I found just enough food left for grilled cheeses, and we have last night's soup for dinner (<--make this the next time you have a chilly day. I'm literally counting the hours until dinner so I can have another huge bowl). I made the executive decision to spend the day at home instead, and I instantly relaxed. We both desperately needed a cozy day at home to make up for the past few days. Gracie and I spent the morning playing with her dollhouse, and I changed Pooh Bear's diaper upwards of 100 times. I felt so generous I even let her watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Since I still have a 2 year old in my charge, the day hasn't been very relaxing, but it has been a huge improvement and you will hear no complaints from me. The one moment I managed to lay down and close my eyes, I opened them to find Gracie rolling around on the floor trying to put on my bra. After lunch, I got a wild hair and organized my pantry. I was so in the zone I didn't even notice that Gracie dumped an entire salt shaker on the floor until I took my slippers off and walked into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee.

The grass may be green and the trees are full of leaves, but it feels like a late October day. I pulled out my fuzzy blue slippers and made an extra buttery, extra cheesy grilled cheese for lunch. No meal, no matter how gourmet, is ever as comforting and delicious as a grilled cheese on a cold, rainy day. The only thing better would've been dipping it in a bowl of tomato soup. Would you guys freak out if I told you I have a fall candle burning? Listen, if the temperature drops even 5 more degrees, I'm starting a fire in the fireplace. I'm not even kidding, O Come O Come Emmanuel just started playing on Spotify and I have no idea why, but I'm digging it. I promise I won't put up my Christmas tree, but just know that I briefly thought about it. A few months ago, I saw this ingenious idea to freeze leftover cookie dough. I know leftover cookie dough is not a concept most of us understand, but you know when you bake a batch of cookies, and then there's only enough dough left for half a batch or so? Roll the dough into balls and freeze it, then pop them in the oven when you need a quick fix. I have 9 chocolate chip cookies waiting to be thrown in the oven. I think about them every single day, but I've been waiting for the right moment. That moment is definitely today, while James is working so I don't have to share. Don't tell him I said that.

While cleaning out the pantry, I noticed our hot water heater is leaking again. My initial reaction was panic, and then I realized NOT MY PROBLEM! We may never buy a house at this rate, but at least we don't have to pay for repairs! There is always a bright side, even if the forecast is all rain.