Tuesday, May 31, 2016

All the Great Things

Today is potentially the last day of Jason's baseball season {if they lose...not that I'm hoping for that...I would never...}. Is it coincidence that I find myself in a really good mood? I don't know. I don't know how moods are formed. Gehrig did tell Jason he wants them to lose, "so that you can stay home with me and not go to baseball anymore." Anyway, I've got all the great things on my mind and I thought I'd share in case you're in the market for great things.

1. Curbside Pick-up!! Guys, my life changed a few weeks ago when I started ordering curbside pick-up groceries for the first time and it was amazing. If your local Meijer has it, use it! We live a little ways from the store, but I was still out my door with 3 kids {two not wearing shoes} and back home in 45 minutes with a trunk full of food and not a fuss from anyone, including me. I've done it a few times and can't imagine going back to shopping for myself. Ugh, I'm such a diva now.

2. Burt's Bees lipstick. I admittedly have an addiction to buying new lipsticks, but these are by far my favorite new find. They're comfortable to wear, smell great, made of all natural ingredients, and are pretty long-lasting without staining or drying out my lips. I want them in every color. It might be a problem.

3. ThredUp. I've used this for a couple years to clean out my closet and find new-to-me clothes, but I just got some really great stuff for super cheap, so I thought I'd share. You can send in a bag full of clothes for cash or store credit and shop for majorly-discounted items. I like it for getting higher-end brands that I wouldn't buy for full-price. Here's a referral code if you're inclined to get a $10 credit {and give me $10, too. No pressure.}.

4. Ebates. While we're at it, if you do a lot of online shopping and you're not using Ebates, you're missing out on some cash. It's free to use and you get cash back on all your purchases just by clicking through your Ebates account. Here's another referral with no pressure. But do it!

5. Jane the Virgin. Call me a high school girl, but I'm totally hooked on this show. Jason even likes it, although he's not a consistent viewer. It's ridiculously entertaining, telenovela style, with some great characters. I just watched the season 2 finale and realized that I need someone to talk to about it. Any takers??

What are some more great things I need to check out? Any books you'd recommend? Movies you love? I need to gear up for all the extra time I'll have when I get my husband back. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dear Milo: Year 3

Dear Milo,

You are three years old! I'll be honest, more than once I've had to do the math to assure myself that this was in fact your third birthday and not your fourth. Somehow it seems impossible that you've only been in our lives for three years. Plus, you're really tall. You're wearing the clothes your brother wore just last Fall. 

First of all, I want to thank you for everything you are to this family. You are hilarious and are never happier than when we're all laughing at your newest bit. One night when Gehrig and Dad were gone, you and I were eating dinner and you said something {I couldn't understand what it was} and you laughed SO hard at yourself that I couldn't help but laugh, too. That made you laugh even harder, which made me laugh harder. Pretty soon we were both in tears and I still don't even know what the joke was. When Gehrig laughs at your antics, you turn to him with a gleam in your eye and say, "Do dat again?" He says yes and you do. And he laughs. And it goes on and on and on. I love that you get joy out of others' laughter. 

You are so sweet to your baby sister. "Mom, baby awake?" "Can my see her?" "Can my hold her?" "Baby otay?" "Mom, can my kiss her?" I hope you always look out for her like this. She's a very lucky girl to have you for a big brother.

You are still such a cuddler when you finally slow down. If I'm sitting on the floor, you move in behind me and hug me around the neck. After I change your diaper {yes, you're still stubbornly in diapers}, I pull you up by your hands and you immediately wrap them around me in a hug. Every time. I'm anxious to potty train you, but I will miss those hugs. You wake up too early every morning, but are usually willing to curl up in my bed for a little while before demanding breakfast. You really love to eat, but cuddling is a close second.

Dad and I always say, "It's good to be Milo." You are such a happy kid who finds the fun in everything. You love to be with your siblings, but also love to play by yourself. There are few things cuter than listening to you make up conversations between your toys. You're also in a big nurturing phase right now. You carry stuffed animals around, calling them your babies. Sometimes you put me in charge: "Mom, take good care of my babies!" But most of the time you carry them around, tuck them into blankets, and find places for them to sleep {laundry baskets, your hat, a kitchen cupboard}.

You are imaginative, sweet, loud, funny, and you bring so much personality wherever you go.

We are all so in love with you. Happy happy birthday, Bugs!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Jude Katheryn's Birth Story

Be warned! It's a birth story, so there are intimate details here. And it's long because it's one of my favorite topics and it's mostly written for my own memory's sake and I included only the details I think are important...so basically all of them. Read on if you so choose...

As the end of my pregnancy approached, I was focused on a few key milestones: finishing my semester, getting final grades submitted, and having Jason home for Christmas break. For a couple months I stressed about all of these things happening before baby's arrival. On Friday, December 18, we reached them all. I submitted my grades, baked cookies with the boys, and celebrated when Jason walked in the door after school was released for the next two weeks. I was due the 21st, and felt like I might actually go into labor close to my due date this time around {laugh laugh}. 

Let's backtrack for a minute. A couple weeks before this I had consistent contractions during work one day. They were 5 minutes apart while I taught two classes and tried to figure out if it was the real thing. A trip to the hospital that evening proved that it was not the real thing. But Jason and I had decided that if we felt like we should go in, we'd go in, even if it meant being sent home. {Being sent home was anxiety-inducing when I was pregnant for Milo, which prevented us from heading in as soon as we should have. It made for a stressful drive and a frantic triage situation that we did not want to repeat.} So, on December 8, we returned from the hospital feeling slightly discouraged, but Jason reassured me that we still needed to stick to the plan. We live a good 35 minutes from the hospital and, judging by how low this baby was and comments made by my midwife, once my labor started it was going to progress quickly. 

In the weeks following, I had strong contractions almost every evening. They would often develop a pattern, but never increase in intensity. Every day my hopes were raised and then dashed when the contractions subsided. I comforted myself with the idea that all these Braxton Hicks had to be doing something. Then, at my appointment on the 22nd {the day after my due date}, my midwife checked me and declared, "You're not doing anything." Awesome. She said if I made it to my appointment the following week, we'd talk about induction. At that point I gave up on the dream of baby arriving before the end of the week. In fact, my desire to go into labor shifted as we started celebrating Christmas Eve and preparing for Christmas Day. After going to church on Christmas Eve and talking about the next day's excitement, I really didn't want to put out cookies and milk, hype the boys up before bed, and then go into labor while they slept and miss out on Christmas Day with them. There was no need to worry though because that obviously didn't happen.

We had a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful holiday and then I resumed my desire to just. have. a baby! The morning of the 26th we went to the hospital for a scheduled non-stress test {the OB office was closed and I needed to have the test that weekend}. We passed with flying colors and, according to the nurses, "baby seems happy as can be in there!"

The next day, December 27, we decided to go see some friends and keep ourselves busy for the day. Distractions were needed since I basically felt like I was just sitting around waiting for labor to start and it was making me emotional and a real treat to live with, I'm sure. My parents were planning to visit that evening because an ice storm was predicted the next day {just try to tell my mom she can't see a new baby because she's trapped on the other side of the state...}. They arrived at our house around 6pm and we ate dinner, though I wasn't very hungry so I didn't eat much. Around 7:30 my mom and dad were putting the boys in bed while I started having my evening contractions. They were pretty strong and I started timing them while sitting on an exercise ball. They were anywhere from 12-17 minutes apart and not at all consistent, but somehow they felt different. One would be really intense for a minute and a half and I'd think about packing up our stuff, only to have the next one feel like a weak Braxton Hicks and last 25 seconds, putting doubt back in my mind. I decided if I was still having any harder ones by 9, I'd call my midwife. At 9:45, after doubting myself several more times, I remembered our plan to ignore those doubts and finally called her. She agreed that with a long-ish drive to the hospital and the speed of my last labor, I should probably head in if I felt like this was real. 

By 10:15 we were out the door and began our somewhat pleasant drive to the hospital. Another big concern for this labor was having someone get to our house to watch the boys, knowing our exit would need to be kind of quick. We had friends and Jason's parents on standby, and a couple of back-up plans in place, but luckily my parents were already there, so I was feeling very relaxed as we headed out the door. My contractions continued with their irregular timing, though they were ranging from 8-15 minutes apart now, and each easy one was followed by a long, intense one. At one point I remember thinking, "the epidural is going to be a nice break," which assured me that this was most likely really happening. After a particularly gripping contraction I told Jason that if they tried to send us home I was going to put up a big fight because even though they were not 5 minutes apart yet, the tough ones were definitely tough.

We parked the car and walked into triage during a long break between contractions. Once I was in a room and gowned up, the nurse checked and I was dilated to 3!! I know some people walk around at a 3 for weeks, but for someone who "wasn't doing anything" a week ago, this was the greatest news. Jason and I looked at each other with huge smiles, just so relieved that something was actually happening. The nurse said she had to monitor baby for ten minutes, then I'd be fine to get up and walk {no thanks!} or get in the tub {yes please!} for an hour or so before they checked my progress and decided what to do. 

Five minutes later she was back. "OK, we're going to start your IV and get you into your delivery room." After seeing our startled faces she explained, "I just talked to your midwife who said you're post-date and we should admit you and give you whatever you need." Party time!

At this point the contractions had become consistent in timing and intensity. I was handling them pretty well, but on our way up to labor and delivery my nurse asked if I wanted my epidural right away. I wasn't used to having the option so early in labor while I was still in such a calm state of mind {I was dilated to 8 when I got it with Gehrig and 9 with Milo}, so it took me a minute to realize that I didn't have to be dealing with transition contractions that were on top of each other in order to request the epidural. I happily agreed to get it and as we got situated in the room, Jason and I remarked how calm we both felt. I dared not comment how smoothly it was going, but I did think it silently. And said many prayers afterward.

Around 12:30am, anesthesia arrived and I got my epidural. By this point I was definitely happy to have relief from the peak of the contractions. Soon after, my midwife, Brenda, arrived and checked me. I was dilated to 4. She then asked if I wanted her to break my water. I wasn't sure, but she said, "The baby's head is right there. As soon as I break your water, this is going to go pretty quick." So I told her to do it. Over the next couple hours, I enjoyed the effects of the epidural, talked to Jason in a quiet, dimly lit room, and closed my eyes every now and then to try and rest. It was sort of bizarre to watch the monitors, knowing my contractions were so strong and close together, but not feel it. Around 2:30 they checked again and I was at a 6. Things were moving quickly but not too quickly. It all felt perfect.

My biggest discomfort at this point was the hunger pains. I hadn't had a big dinner and all I wanted was food. Unfortunately my hospital doesn't allow food for laboring women {come on! give us sustenance!} so Jason and I just had to laugh every time my stomach growled. It was so loud! I felt bad that in some ways I was more excited to eat at the end of this labor than to meet my baby. But I suppose any motivation is good, right?

I was still at a 6 the next time they checked me about 45 minutes later, so the nurse had me sit up to try to use gravity to get the baby's head directly on my cervix and really speed things up. I was sitting comfortably until around 3:45 when I started feeling horrible back labor. I'd had back labor with Gehrig and remembered it all-to-well. Jason had just fallen asleep, so I tried putting my own counter-pressure on my lower back. With my fists behind me, I pushed my back into them with each contraction. When this wasn't quite doing the trick, I woke Jason and asked him to do the same thing. My nurse, Bailie, came in and I told her what was going on. She had me lay on one side in case the baby was turning a bit, causing the back labor, and said that she'd help me turn to the other side in 20 minutes. She gave Jason heat packs, which he held on my back and hips between contractions and then replaced them with his fists as I shoved my back against him during the contractions. Twenty minutes later, at 4:15, my nurse came back and said, "before we move you to the other side, let me check you...Oh yeah, you're complete. That's pressure you're feeling and it's time to push!" Jason grabbed my hand and we had this really peaceful moment soaking up the final minutes before meeting our new baby.

Five minutes later, my midwife was there and we were getting ready to push. Bailie, who was such a sweetheart and joyful presence the entire night, started taking a poll of gender guesses. I said girl, as did Brenda and Bailie, and Jason was left alone in his boy guess. One other nurse came in to help with the delivery and she said girl, too. They told me to push when I was ready. Since the epidural was masking the contractions, I was actually happy to have the back labor telling me when they were happening. I pushed twice through the next contraction and the baby crowned! "That definitely looks like a girl's head!" said my nurse. Then she turned to me, "One more push and this baby will be out." And she was right. I pushed once on the next contraction and I caught a glimpse of a baby slipping out easily into Brenda's arms before she held up this amazing little person for us to see. I sob-laughed, "It's a girl!!" as I grabbed her and laid her on my belly. They cleaned her off, rubbing her bluish tint into a lovely pink as Jason and I just stared at her and each other. I cut the cord, something I've never gotten to do, and savored our hour of skin-to-skin. She nursed like a pro and I blissfully ate a muffin and crackers while thinking about what I'd order for breakfast once the kitchen opened. 

The whole experience was so surreal. If I could make up my perfect labor and delivery story, this would be it. As her birth indicated, Jude has been a peaceful baby so far. We are settling in the best we can with her loud and loving brothers. We are tired and I am sort of a mess, but all-in-all everything is lovely, especially Jude.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Remember This!

In the next week or so, life is going to change drastically. We'll soon be meeting the newest member of our family and I know that transition is going to be rocky and lovely and full of cuddles and tears and heart-swells and meltdowns {from all of us}. Part of me cannot wait, especially since I got my final grades submitted and I am officially done with work for the next few months, but the other part of me wants to bottle up as many memories of our family of four as possible before all of our lives change forever. Between the stresses of work and the to-do lists before the baby arrives are these moments when I am acutely aware that this phase of our life is so incredibly fun and special. The boys are each in a crazy awesome stage and, even though I totally dropped the ball never even picked up the ball on many holiday traditions this year, I feel like this Christmas has the potential to be one of the most magical we've ever had.

So, in order for my soon-to-be-scrambled brain to recall the way life was right now, here are some observations of our life lately.

Every morning, the boys wake up and come into our room to get one of us up. It was always me they got first until a few weeks ago when Gehrig started waking Jason instead. I didn't question it because...why would I mess with a good thing? Then one morning Jason overheard Gehrig whispering to Milo, "Just don't wake up Mom! She needs to rest because of the baby in her belly." Since then, they both climb on Jason's side of the bed and let me "sleep in."

One of my favorite things to do is listen to the games the boys come up with while they play together. It's of course fun to play with them, but discovering what they dream up on their own is amazing to me. Most of the time they get along and will cooperate with the other's ideas, though Milo still gets "scared" when Gehrig {as whatever animal he's chosen to be that day} attacks or chases him. This is ironic because when the game does get too rough, Milo is always more aggressive and his older brother is usually the one getting hurt.

Gehrig is constantly impressing us with his desire and ability to read. He picked out an Easy Reader "for the baby" {it's about dinosaurs...} and read the whole thing in the car on the way home with very little help from Jason. When he read it to me that night, I cried. It's sort of incredible and my current brag-worthy topic. Also, I'm pregnant and emotional.

Milo is one of the funniest people I've ever met. If you need a laugh, come have dinner with him. He spends the entire meal trying to get everyone at the table laughing and, even though I shouldn't encourage some of the behavior {eating like a dog, burping, not eating any of his food because he's too busy making "jokes" etc.}, the facial expressions and giggles he makes are just too much for me to handle. Jason says Milo gets away with so much more than Gehrig does/did, and I'm not sure if it's actually true, but something about his delivery makes it impossible for me not to smile. In fact, when he does get scolded, he furrows his brow and laments, "ohhh, dat was just joke.."

Other things to remember about Gehrig right now:
He talks about animals, all day every day; cries when the snow melts {what is up with this mild Michigan winter??}; was called "the definition of a good listener" by his teachers; thinks the baby is a boy and we should name him Owen {his friend at school}; likes bossing his little brother around; wants to be a Wild Kratt when he grows up.

Other things to remember about Milo right now:
He loves playing cars and trucks; is not interested in potty training AT ALL; has the poutiest lip when his feelings are hurt, but also has the biggest attitude when he doesn't get his way; cuddles with me more than his brother ever did; thinks the baby is a boy and we should name him Owen; repeats everything his brother says.

Both boys are obsessed with the baby. They check my belly constantly and give the baby hugs and kisses. Milo continually asks if he'll get to hold the baby, which ends in an argument between them about who gets to hold the baby first {mom! mommy does!}. They're going to be amazing brothers to this kid.

All-in-all this pregnancy has been pretty smooth. Emotional? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Weird symptoms I've never had before? Absolutely. But when it's all said and done, this baby has been good to me. The semester kept me very busy, which is always an excellent distraction, but now that it's OVER {if I could drink, I'd throw myself a giant fiesta with alllll the beer and margaritas}, I am overly excited to relax for a couple days {weeks? hours? who can tell?} before baby comes. Unfortunately I'll just be drinking tea, water, and orange juice to try and kick the cold I caught from my germy preschooler while I try to stock up energy for labor. Along with the end of work stress  always comes the beginning of viruses, which is not ideal right now, but when is it really? Just give me all the good vibes and prayers and clementines you can, ok?

So, off I go to wait for labor to start. Have the most peaceful of Christmases with those you love!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Jason & Brenna - A Love Story {Part II}

See {Part I} here.

Where were we? Ah, yes. The breakup...

There are some important logistical factors to understand here. I am originally from Saginaw {east side of Michigan} where Jason was going to school, but he is originally from Temperance {southeast Michigan} and I was attending school in Grand Rapids {west Michigan}. There is a 2-3 hour drive between each of these places.

We had been dating for three months in the Fall of 2004. I was home for Thanksgiving break. He was home for Thanksgiving break. We were frustrated with the situation and with each other and the giant triangle between all our separate homes. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we were having a tense conversation about not seeing each other or being able to spend the holiday together. I had still never met his family and my family had very little opportunity to get to know him. Things just did not seem to be in our favor. I can't remember who brought it up or how the conversation actually ended up there, but we decided to break up.

Later that night I went to a friend's house with a group of people, including my roommate, Katie, who knew more about Jason and I than anyone. I told her what happened and confessed how much I hated it. I realized then that I wasn't ready to be done with our relationship, but didn't really see how it could work, especially if he was ready to be done.

I tried to sleep that night, but ended up awake watching Pirates of the Caribbean and crying about our breakup. Halfway through the movie, Jason called. 

We spent the rest of the night talking about how we both sort of regretted it coming to this, but also decided that we must have broken up for a logical reason, since neither of us were the emotionally dramatic type who would dump someone in the middle of a fight just because we were upset. We decided to continue talking, but to stay broken up so that we could figure out what we really wanted.

For the next month we tried to give each other space, but I'm not sure how well we did since it turned out we both just really wanted to be together. Jason had a wedding to go to right before Christmas and asked me to be his date. I of course said yes. I wore a Claddagh ring every day back then, which, when worn with the heart facing out means you're single, and if the heart is facing in toward your heart, it means you're taken. When Jason picked me up for the wedding, he gave me white roses and asked me to turn my ring back toward my heart. So, we were officially back together. {Whew! Aren't you relieved? I know you were worried...}

We spent the next three years becoming really good at our long distance relationship. I was kind of a stressed out mess in college and Jason proved to be my steadying ground, as he continues to do eleven years later. I filled my time with friends and school, he had baseball and his own friends and school. Looking back I recognize how being content in our own separate lives made it much easier for us to be content with each other and our relationship, too. We also accepted that keeping score was never going to make this work, so we tried our best to keep the tallies about visits and phone calls at bay. It definitely was not easy, but there was a whole lot of trust and a whole lot of patience involved to get us through.

Jason proved to be the master of surprises. One rainy night I had class late and missed the last bus back to my apartment, so I called Katie to come get me. Ten minutes later, Jason pulled up, all suave and stuff, as if it was perfectly normal for me to see him on a Wednesday evening. One year on my birthday, I got home from class to find him sitting outside my apartment. Those surprise visits were the best.

I tried my hardest to reciprocate them.  By year two I finally had a car and could contribute some weekend visits. On Halloween, my roommates and I were in Ann Arbor for the night. Jason was at his parents' house about an hour away and thought I was heading back to school the next day. Instead, I drove down in the middle of the night to surprise him and stay the weekend. Unfortunately, he was sound asleep and didn't hear his cell phone ringing 200 times when I arrived. My choices were: sleep in my car in the driveway and just see him the morning {but he was right inside!}, drive back to Ann Arbor and try again in the morning {I was broke and gas was expensive}, or ring the doorbell and hope he woke up before his parents {ugh. This seemed like the best option}. I'm still embarrassed about scaring his mom and dad out of their bed while Jason was sound asleep in the basement and I learned that I am not awesome at surprises.

When Jason graduated in 2006, he moved back to Temperance and started working while I still had a few semesters left to go. I studied in Ireland that summer and after living across the state from each other for two years, being across the ocean didn't feel that different {except that I was, you know, in Ireland}. By this point we had talked about our future and knew that once I graduated we'd be getting married.

In Summer of 2007, I was still living in Grand Rapids, finishing an internship and working while he was also working/looking for a different job {though options were limited and he started to consider going back to school. A story for another time}. In August Jason was coming for a visit to celebrate our 3-year anniversary. I was working in an office with my roommate, Kendall's, boyfriend, who had told me all about his plan to propose to her that weekend. I was so excited and kept telling Jason updates about it - "her ring is so pretty!"- and when he came to pick me up to go to dinner and my other roommates, Katie and Sarah, stood on the porch waving excitedly and breaking into some sort of tap dance, I was somehow oblivious to something else going on.

He surprised me {again with the surprises} by taking me to a swanky restaurant by the river in Grand Rapids. We had the most delicious, most expensive steak I've ever had before taking a walk along the river. As the sun was setting, Jason told me to turn around and when I looked down he had the ring out and he asked me to marry him. I said yes {did you figure that out already?} and, once Jason got over his fear of the ring falling into the river, he let me put it on. We spent the rest of the evening calling family and friends to tell them the news. Our parents already knew since he had driven to Saginaw to ask them for their blessing {my dad's initial response was, "you know she's still in school, right?" which remains one of my favorite stories ever} and his mom had found a picture of the ring he had saved up for that year. My roommates also knew, hence the tap dance as we drove away. And it turned out that Kendall and her now husband got engaged on the same day, which Jason knew would happen because of all my gabbing about their proposal.

I graduated that December and moved to Toledo, Ohio, down the street from Jason. For the first time in 3.5 years, we lived in the same town and were planning our wedding for October 18, 2008. Luckily, it turned out that we still really liked each other, maybe even more so, when we saw each other daily and didn't have to plan the next weekend visit. Yay, love!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jason & Brenna - A Love Story {Part I}

Jason and I are celebrating our 7-year wedding anniversary this weekend. I've been wanting to write down our story for a long time and this feels like a good year to finally do it. So, here is the first installment...

It was the end of my senior year of high school and I needed to find a second job for the summer before I moved across the state for college. A friend of mine recommended a local 9-hole golf course, so I applied and got the job along with another good friend of mine. It was sort of the perfect gig - working with friends, flexible hours to make time for my other job, laid-back owners who didn't really care how much pop or cookies I consumed, a TV in the clubhouse, downtime to read in between customers, and a bunch of guys who worked outside, one of whom was suuuuper cute.

I actually remember the first time I saw him. I was at the cash register, probably getting the cart key for an 80-year-old regular, when a guy walked in dressed in dirty blue sweatpants, a Cardinals Baseball t-shirt, and sort of messy blondish hair. He was tan and cute and....didn't say a word to me. I found out his name later by snooping through the time cards and figuring out, by process of elimination, who he was.

All the employees at the golf course had to help at a kids' league every Thursday morning {never mind the fact that most of us knew nothing about golf}. The owner, Bud {his name really sums up who he is}, would pair up the employees and send us out with a group of kids to play. I was usually paired up with my friend, Jessica, and spent the entire time talking about how cute that Jason guy was while she gave me tips on what I should say to him or how I might get him to talk to me. At the end of the day, everyone ended up back in the clubhouse to eat and make sure the kids didn't break anything. One day, Bud paired Jason and I together {I think he prided himself on matchmaking his employees} and I was straight up terrified. Here's what I knew about him: he was a college guy, he played baseball at Saginaw Valley, he was quiet, and I had no idea what to talk to him about. I'm sure most of our conversations were sort of lame. I mostly remember him bickering with a little boy named Peter who teased Jason for being a Yankees fan. I also remember the day I chipped one in from the green {according to one of the kids I "eagled" that hole, and I still have no idea what that means} and Jason said he was very impressed. So, I was clearly catching his attention with my confidence and charm.

We started to sit by each other in the clubhouse after golfing and played cards a few times. He taught me how to play Rummy, which we would come to play a lot over the next decade. After a couple weeks of this, I somehow got up the nerve to ask if he wanted to, "I dunno, go play putt-putt or something, sometime, maybe?" He said something along the lines of, "Yeah," and wrote his number on the Rummy scorecard and I tore off a piece and gave him my number, too.* 

*This is a good time to point out that there remains contention about this part of the story since a certain someone refuses to confess that it was, in fact, the girl who asked the boy out first. My blog, my version, dear.

He called that night {fluttery stomach!} and asked if I wanted to hang out that weekend. We decided to meet up the next night at the tennis court, which was a big nighttime hangout spot when I was in high school since there were lights on as long as you put a quarter in before they went out. I don't remember that much about playing tennis, though Jason maintains that he dominated the court and won me over with his natural athleticism. Come to think of it, he may have referred to himself as Andy Roddick a lot. What I do remember about that first date was sitting by my car {actually, no, it was my mom's car because I had been in a bad accident that Spring on my way to the golf course, so I had no car. Minor detail...not important...but, my blog!} in the parking lot after playing and just talking for a long time. We decided to go out again soon, and so began our little summer fling.

If I could go back and watch some of our first dates play out, I would probably hate how terribly quiet I was. On our second date we went to Outback Steakhouse and I ordered a salad {Seriously? Order a steak, girlfriend!}. And I barely spoke. This is true in both versions of the story - Jason had to carry the conversation that night. And if you know Jason, especially the younger Jason, you'd know that was not his comfort zone. I guess he really liked me though since we continued to go on dates for the rest of the Summer. The first movie we watched together was Tommy Boy and he grabbed my hand for the first time and held it during the rest of the movie. I know, I know - so cliché! Who doesn't think of that movie and have some romantic story to go along with it?

As the summer was coming to an end, I was getting ready to move across the state for my freshman year of college and really didn't know what would happen. I liked him a lot, I knew he liked me, but I was about to start this brand new phase of life and really didn't expect to be starting a relationship at that point. But, alas, the day before I moved away, Jason asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I didn't even hesitate before saying yes. And so, mere minutes before I said goodbye and moved 3 hours away from him, before considering what being in a long distance relationship meant or wondering if it was maybe not the greatest idea, Jason and I became an official couple. 

Here's one thing I'll say for dating long distance, especially in a brand new relationship: it forces you to talk A LOT. I didn't have a car and both of us were busy with school, so we were limited to the weekends Jason could come visit me, which didn't happen very often. We wrote emails. We talked over AIM {throwback!}. And we talked on the phone. A lot. His family maintains that this part of our relationship completely boggled their minds. The fact that he could talk on the phone to me for hours had them stumped. Have I mentioned that Jason was very quiet when we met? 

This went on for a couple months - the emailing, calling, talking. I missed him and really wanted to live closer to him. But I also loved college and was making good friends and was excited about this relationship and everything going on in my life. It was all really good. Until Thanksgiving when we broke up...

To be continued....

Monday, September 14, 2015

Five Routines Keeping Me Sane This Fall

With our fall schedule in full swing, I'm starting to appreciate the structure of our week and relying on some pretty firm routines to help keep things under control. We're a pretty extreme case as we go from everyone home all day in the summer {read: no schedule} to a whacky routine that changes every 3 months based on my teaching assignment and what childcare we need, but we're starting to get in a groove that works.

Anyway, I have some methods for making the weeks run smoother that I thought I'd share, and that I can look back on in case I need reminders should I fall off the organized track.

1. Meal plan. I don't want to be overdramatic, but this has literally changed my life. About a year ago I realized that I would get anxious and frustrated whenever dinnertime rolled around, especially when Jason asked "what's the plan for dinner?" So, I had this novel idea: make a plan! I use printouts I found here {but if you search Pinterest for "meal plan printable" there are lots of great options} and have them hung in the kitchen in picture frames so that I can write on them each week with dry erase markers. On Sunday, I write out our schedule for the week and use that to plan our meals, taking into account if Jason or I will be gone some evenings for meetings and the like. 

There are so many reasons I love this. First, I use a meal planner with a grocery list next to it, so I include any needed ingredients in the shopping list for the week. This actually makes our grocery bill lower, too, because we're not buying unnecessary ingredients or things we already have in the house. Second, it makes it easier to use up food so it doesn't go to waste. For example, if I'm buying certain veggies for one meal, I make sure to include another with those ingredients so we can use up the rest. Third, it makes us try new recipes. I am admittedly not an awesome cook {luckily my husband enjoys cooking}, so if I don't have anything planned, it's not easy for me to whip something up with ingredients I happen to have in the cupboard. A day with no plan usually results in frozen pizza or pancakes for dinner {Don't get me wrong. Sometimes pancakes is the plan. What is life without brinner, really?}. When I have all the ingredients I need for a recipe though, I have found I enjoy cooking more and I think I've gotten much better at it since including this blessed weekly ritual. And most importantly, it has completely eliminated the anxiety that used to come from the question, "what's for dinner?" 

2. Snack plan. Okay, so this could be included up above, but I recently decided to be more intentional about planning out snacks along with dinners for the week. It's a big money-saver {not to mention healthier} to make things like granola bars and muffins, rather than relying on store-bought snacks. So as I make our meal plan, I also decide on two or three snacks to make throughout the week. This way I include ingredients I need on the grocery list and even plan out which day I'll make each. Again, it makes our food stretch further and helps with the budget, too.

3. Don't sit down until the dishes are done. I'm definitely still working on this one. I find that in the evening, once dinner is done and the boys are headed to bed, my preggo feet are ready for a rest and all I want to do is sit on the couch, get some work done, or watch Seinfeld with Jason. But this usually results in the kitchen not getting touched for the rest of the night, which means I wake up in the morning to dirty dishes in the sink and no time to do them before leaving for work. So, my new rule is that I can't sit down in the evening until the dishes have been done. A clean kitchen in the morning is a really beautiful thing.

4. Alternate bedtime with the kids. A few months ago Jason and I found ourselves in a conundrum every night. Each of us had work to do and secretly hoped the other would volunteer to do bedtime with the boys. This actually was causing some animosity between us each evening {stress and pregnancy hormones and exhaustion may have played their part, too}. So, we took an idea from some friends who had been alternating nights doing bedtime with their kids. I think we have both said at some point that this method has saved our marriage {we're all about the melodramatic around here}. It's not that I don't love reading books and singing my kids to sleep, but as teachers we both always have work to do at home and usually need the evening to prepare for the next day. Plus, the boys put up a huge fight for Jason if he only does it sporadically. By taking turns, our kids are now used to both of our techniques, go to bed easily, and we never have to discuss whose turn it is. This works great for our family and may or may not have saved our marriage...

5. Have a designated laundry day. Everyone has a chore or two that they just can't stand. Laundry is mine. I usually let it build up or just throw in a load or two when there's something specific we need. This makes for such a hassle! I could be {and was} doing laundry every day of the week at that rate, and since it's such a dreaded task for me, this was definitely not working. I decided to make Tuesday my laundry day, since I don't teach that day and I know I'll be home to get it done. Everything gets washed, folded, and put away every Tuesday. I start the first load as soon as I get up in the morning, after stripping the beds and gathering all the towels and I usually put the last load away before I go to bed at night and say goodbye to that chore for the rest of the week. Hallelujah! 

While we're only two weeks into the semester, I really feel like these routines are going to help us stay on top of everything as life get crazier and closer to the holidays and baby-time. Any other good tips for a girl just trying to play the part of a real adult?