Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zee Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you're visiting from the A-Z Blog Challenge, you'll find my Z entry at the end of this post. Where Z belongs.

If you're playing along in the Hodgepodge today, add your link to the party and then go say hi to your neighbors.  Here are my answers-

1.  April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Are you blooming where you're planted as we begin the month of May?

Literally? No. I've been in SC for a few days and it definitely feels like summer is ready to pop down here. Back home our trees are still bare. Spring is showing up here and there in the Garden State, but we sit up high so we're still wearing coats and have the heat running at night.

If you mean figuratively, then yes. I've learned to always bloom where I'm planted.

2.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no big deal, and 10 being full scale panic, rank your fear of spiders.

I'm going with a 6. Unless it's one of the ginormous crunchy kind, in which case I'm  a 10. My daughter2 (who ranks at least a 12) shared this with me the other night-

photo credit-

Pretty much sums up how she feels about spiders.

3. May is National Salad Month (who knew???)...besides lettuce, what are two must have ingredients in your favorite salad?

Cucumbers and black olives. 
It's not a salad without cucumbers.

4.  I mentioned on my  blog last week that my Daughter1 will be moving to Washington State after she is married. Of the following sites in the Northwest, which would you most like to see in person-Crater Lake (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), Vancouver (British Columbia), San Juan Islands (Washington),  Mt Rainier (Washington), Oregon Coast (Oregon), Mt St Helen's ((Washington), or Olympic National Park (Washington)?

Well I do believe I will get to see all of the above in the next five years, but if I can only pick one I'm going with  Mt Rainier. We love to hike and love the mountains so that's definitely on my list.

5.  This coming weekend marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby...when did you last race (literally or figuratively) to cross a finish line?

Yesterday. Reception venue booked. Now we just need to see if the groom can make the date. Ha! You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Planning a wedding with the US Army means you have to kind of put the cart before the horse. Reception venue tentatively, sorta-kinda booked. Maybe.

6. What is something little you love?


7. Would you say you are more of a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner?

Definitely visual.  I need to see something to understand it. I think I used to be much more of an auditory learner, but the post-50 brain needs pictures to go with all the words. Sad, but true.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Using the random space again this week for my A-Z Challenge post, and since today is the last day of April its also the last day of the challenge. Whoohoo! I'll be the first to admit that this years challenge has been uh, challenging.

Z is for zonked.

I know I should wrap up this month's worth of marriage posts with something deep and profound, but I just can't do it today. I think I'll write a reflection at some point, but that point is not now. It has been a full month in every way, and I want a little time to let it all settle before I add any more words.  

Congrats to all you A-Z ers who made it all the way through the alphabet! Not as easy as it sounds! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yesterday's Grace

So today I want to talk about yesterday which doesn't have a lot to do with my A-Z theme (married with children), but it does begin with the letter y, and I am married, so there's that.

As you may have figured out, this one will be a think and blog as you go kind of post.

I've been waiting all year to make a trip to South Carolina to see my daughter2 teach her classroom full of little darlings, and yesterday was the day. She gets up at the crack of dawn to get to school early, so I got up at the crack of dawn too. Coincidentally I happened to be visiting during teacher appreciation week, and let me tell you her school PTA goes all out for the teachers. They have special breakfasts and lunches planned, along with some fun little treats like cute tote bags for the staff. My daughter loves her school and I'm happy she gets to work in a warm and supportive environment.

Daughter2's students had been told I was coming and they were very excited.  They behaved like the angels they are, and I know their teacher had a little something to do with that.  She has a most excellent class, which is a fabulous way to kick off a teaching career.

I felt a little bit like a celebrity, especially on the playground. I read a story and did a few small tasks, but mostly I just watched my baby girl do what she was most assuredly born to do. She was so organized and calm, and she was cheerful too. Absolutely nothing ruffled her feathers, consequently nothing ruffled her students either. I was so impressed...pretty sure I had a ridiculous grin on my face all day long. Her kids love her, and by default they loved me too. The teachers mother.

Hubs and I always knew Daughter2 would grow up to run something. As a toddler we used to say she was small but mighty-ha! And she was! Always so sure of herself, smart with a kind heart and a strong sense of justice. We hear so much about everything that is wrong with the state of education in our country...

...but you should know some things are also very right. 

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 172

Welcome to the last week of Hodgepodge for the month of April. If you're here visiting from the A-Z Challenge, my post for the letter Y will be up shortly. In the meantime, if you'd like to play along in this fun weekly meme, feel free. Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow (Wednesday) to add your link to the party.  See you there! 

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Are you blooming where you're planted as we begin the month of May?

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no big deal, and 10 being full scale panic, rank your fear of spiders.

3. May is National Salad Month (who knew???)...besides lettuce, what are two must-have ingredients in your favorite salad?

4. I mentioned on my blog last week that my Daughter1 will be moving to Washington State after she is married. Of the following sites in the Northwest, which would you most like to see in person-Crater Lake (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), Vancouver (British Columbia), San Juan Islands (Washington),  Mt. Rainer (Washington) Oregon Coast (Oregon), Mt. St. Helens (Washington), or Olympic National Park (Washington)

5. This coming weekend marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby...when did you last race (literally or figuratively) to cross a finish line?

6. What is something little you love?

7. Would you say you are more of a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Elaborate.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 28, 2014


You'd think with only three letters remaining in the A-Z Blog Challenge that I'd be skating, but you would be wrong. I'm afraid my A-Z will end with a whimper instead of a bang but still, a whimper is better than nothing so here goes something.

X is for An eXcellent Wife

When I first began thinking about words for my A-Z posts, and thought about today's letter (X), the first thing that came to mind was the verse in Proverbs 31 that says-

"An excellent wife who can find her? She is worth far more than rubies..." 

There are then an additional 20 verses that follow, detailing what it is exactly that makes an excellent wife. Included in that list-

Her husband has confidence in her, and knows she will never cause him any harm.
She works hard, eagerly in fact.
She gets up early, while it's still dark.
She invests wisely.
She helps the poor and needy.
She sees that her own family is well fed and clothed.
She is strong and dignified.
She is unafraid of the future.
She is wise.
She takes care of her responsibilities and obligations, and is not lazy.
Her children call her blessed.
Her husband praises her.
She fears the Lord.

But no pressure-ha!

This past week I have not felt much like an excellent wife. More like mediocre. Lukewarm.  While I can accomplish an awful lot under pressure, I can't always accomplish it with enthusiasm. Was the woman in Proverbs 31 exhausted?

Between traveling (think frustrating flight delays outbound and likely weather delays inbound), multiple obligations I need to take care of relating to a volunteer position I hold, a husband who has been a little under the weather, and who has now kindly shared his wicked cough with me, trying to secure a wedding date and venue which requires among other things, a stamp of approval from the US Army, and then add to that roughly a hundred and ten other things both large and small, and well I think you get the picture.

At the moment I am feeling pulled in too many directions, by too many people. Why is it we women so often feel this way? And how does a wife who feels more lukewarm than excellent turn it around?  

One day at a time. 
One hour at a time.
Sometimes just a few minutes at a time. 

There are times when the schedule just won't give. Times when you have more to do than hours to do it in. Times when the people you love all need all of you. Times when you have to look at your day and just get on with it. And so you do. 

Dear wives everywhere who are having a day, a moment, a season-

Remember it is only a day, a moment or a season. 
Remember whose you are, and that His mercies are new every morning. 
Remember life is a marathon, and not a sprint.

Know that sometimes getting on with it is a step towards being the excellent wife you long to be. 

Also a nap never hurt anyone.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Evergreen State and God

As most of you know by now (because I've mentioned it no less than ten times) my first born baby girl, aka Daughter1, is getting married. We're still trying to pin down the when and the where, and as is our usual way of operating round here, it's complicated. Very.

Let's recap-

We live in New Jersey.
Daughter1 lives in the Washington D.C. area.
Fiance is currently living in Charleston SC.
Fiance's parents also live in South Carolina, but not in Charleston.
The happy couple plan to be married somewhere sometime in SC.

Those logistics are for amateurs, but guess what?
The fiance is moving soon, and when she becomes his Mrs. she'll be moving too.
Are you ready?
W is for Washington

Not Washington as in The District of Columbia, where the bride-to-be is currently working and living, but Washington as in The Evergreen State. The one that sits on the complete opposite side of the US of A, many, many, many miles from all of the above. Deep breaths now. Be brave.

And you know what? I feel brave. And happy. And so excited for the adventure my daughter and future son-in-law are about to embark upon, because here's the thing-

Beginning your life together as husband and wife in a home and city far from all that is familiar, means you must operate as a team from the get-go. An experience like this one can help cement a relationship, it allows you to mark it as wholly your own. Me and you. You and me. Husband and wife. I got you babe.  

I won't deny there is something sweet and special in being surrounded by the physical closeness and comfort of mom and dad and sister and cousins and all your big extended family. I also know there is something very liberating in figuring out what you look like as someone's other half, separate and away from the people who've loved you since the day you were born.

I cannot help but look back and see how God's hand has been upon each one of us, preparing us for this next season of life. How my sweet tender hearted girl, who never wanted her world to tilt in the slightest, had it flipped upside down at the age of fifteen.

September, 2003

How she was plucked from the cozy, familiar home she'd grown up in, and moved an ocean away, and how it was all so strange and new until one day it wasn't. Her fiance said to me recently, 'She's not afraid of anything.' and I smiled. That wasn't always so.

It was in that far away unfamiliar place my girl grew brave. It was there she learned to seize the day instead of allowing it to seize her. She discovered there's a big wide world out there just waiting to be known if you are not afraid to know it.

Above all, she learned that God is everywhere and also just a breath away. That home can be anywhere you are, even a country that is not your own.

Even the Evergreen State.

April, 2014

Her mama knows it too.

Friday, April 25, 2014


T minus 5 and counting-whoohoo! But who's counting? Ha!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about you must not be participating in the A-Z April Blog Challenge. 5 is the number of letters that remain before the challenge concludes next Wednesday. We're all counting, right?

V is for Verses

So today we've hit the letter V, and I thought I'd share with you a few of the verses I like to read and pray, for my husband and my marriage. Really if I could give all soon-to-be marrieds some advice it would be this-pray for your spouse. It sounds simple enough, but so often we let life get in the way.  

I read a quote by Lysa TerKeurst that said, 'Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage.'  Prayer requires discipline, and like most things that require discipline, the reward is great. And in this case eternal. I will also add here, that when you're annoyed with your husband, praying for him makes it hard to stay annoyed. 

Here are some of my favorites, verses I've put on cards and tucked into the places in my house where I spend the most time. If you have a special verse you pray for your hubs (or wife) I'd love for you to share it in the comments. 

Have a great weekend everyone! 

When he is making decisions, both for our family and in his work-

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." 
Proverbs 3: 5-6 

When he is feeling overwhelmed- 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

When he is worried-

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us...' Ephesians 3:20

Understanding God's plan for His life-

'But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matt: 6:33

The future-

'Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.' Hebrews 10:23

Thursday, April 24, 2014


We're almost at the end of the alphabet, so I guess now is as good a time as any to talk conflict. Ugh. My least favorite thing, in marriage especially, but also in business, in organizations of any kind, in friendships, and in the world at large.

U is for Upset. Ugh. 

I think it can be said that into every marriage some conflict will fall. See posts on E,  F, KL, M, and R, for starters. The scale and scope of that conflict varies, but I don't know any married couples who experience smooth sailing all day, every day, forever and ever amen.

Hubs and I approach conflict from opposite ends of the spectrum.  I hate it with every fiber of my being, and do my best to avoid it at all costs. When tensions rise I have to resist pulling the covers over  my head. I am extremely slow to anger, and honestly I just don't get upset all that easily. However, once I've been drawn into conflict I can carry the hurt around for a while. Nurture it. Pull it out of my pocket and examine it from time to time. Not my best quality, but I'm sure some of you can relate.

Then there is the hubs. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. His fuse lights much faster than mine, but he doesn't let it burn for days or weeks afterwards. He forgives and forgets quickly and easily. I forgive easily too, it's the forgetting I struggle with.

So instead of conflict, how about we talk peace? Because we husbands and wives hold the keys to peace within our marriage and our home. Words said cannot be unsaid. Words heard cannot be unheard. If there is one thing married people learn pretty quickly it's which buttons to push to inflict the most pain. In a heated moment it's so easy to reach for those buttons, but don't. They are not the way to create lasting peace within a marriage.

I think real peace is not possible apart from a relationship with God, so stay close to Him. Some things are better said to Him than to your spouse. We're often told don't go to bed angry, and to a certain extent I agree. I also think sometimes a good nights sleep is exactly what's needed to see your situation with fresh eyes. Most problems look smaller in the daylight than they do in the dark of night.

I've been married nearly thirty years, and each season of life brings with it a particular kind of joy, as well as new challenges. Marriage is a life long committment so you're not going to figure it all out in year one, but year one is a good place to start.  Love each other well. Listen. Learn to express dissatisfaction without being cruel. Forgive and accept forgiveness. Be a peacemaker in your own home.

'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.' Matthew 5:9

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A T-riffic Hodgepodge

Welcome back to your regularly scheduled programming this week-The Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you're visiting today from the A-Z Blog Challenge, you'll find my entry for the letter T at the end of this post.  In the meantime, everyone is welcome to join the Hodgepodge. Answer the questions on your own blog, then link back to that post at the end of mine. Here we go-

1. April 22nd is Earth Day. Are you inspired by nature? In what way?

Oh absolutely, in all sorts of ways. Nature inspires me to write, think deeply, dream, and worship. I'm especially inspired by sunlight on the water, the ocean, a mountaintop, or a beautiful sunrise. I often wonder how anyone can look at those things and say there is no God. I love cities, and can find a certain sort of energy and inspiration there, but not the quiet reflective kind I find in my own back yard.  

2. Down to earth, four corners of the earth, move heaven and earth, not have an earthly chance, or salt of the earth...which earthly idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.

Four corners of the earth? Not precisely, but when I deposited one fiance, one daughter, and one boyfriend at the airport on Sunday afternoon, followed by one bride-to-be at the Amtrak station they were traveling to four different cities in three different states. And of course hubs and I are in a completely 'nother state, so yeah, quite often it feels like we are scattered to the four corners. 

We deal. 
More or less.  

3. Share one piece of advice you might give a newly engaged couple.

After every wedding comes a marriage. 

Being engaged is a very special time in the life of a couple, so nurture that relationship now more than ever. Invest time and energy in one another during these next busy and exciting months.  I think it must be extra hard in today's culture of social media and Pinterest and everything shared not to get completely caught up in the planning of your very special day, but remember after your very special day will be the rest of your very special life. Treat your relationship with the tender loving care it needs and deserves. 

4. When did you last engage someone to perform a job, task, service, home improvement or repair? On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) how would you rate their work and/or your satisfaction with the job or service provided?

We recently had a plumber out to repair a pipe that had burst in our garage. We've used them before and are always very happy with their work, good manners, the care they take in coming in and out of the house, and generally the price. I give it a 10. 

5. When did you last find yourself engaged in small talk?  Are you awkward or an expert or somewhere in between?

Well I'm not the expert my hubs is, seriously everywhere he goes he comes home with someone's life story. He knows how to draw people out and into a conversation. It's a gift. I'm pretty good with small talk, and it doesn't make me uncomfortable. Nobody here is surprised to know I can chatter about nothing at all when a situation calls for it, are they?  

6. What was the last historic place you visited?

Probably the restaurant we dined in Saturday night-One If By Land, Two If By Sea. It's located on Barrow Street in NYC, and was at one time Aaron Burr's carriage house. It's also supposedly haunted but we didn't see any signs of that on Saturday. I wrote about our evening here.

7. The world would be a better place if we just___________________.

Lived by the golden rule...'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Giving myself a small breather here today, and using this random space for my A-Z Challenge post. 

T is for Tradition

As I've been thinking and writing about marriage this month I've come to the conclusion that every component of married life really does come back to a single word-expectation. That's true in dealing with household chores, extended family, leisure time, child rearing, money...all of it, and it's no less true for what I'm going to call tradition. By tradition I mean those things that happened within your own family as you were growing up that stamped holidays, special occasions, celebrations, and milestones as belonging to your family. Things you'd like to recreate within your own family now that you're married.  

Every family has a particular way of celebrating birthdays, Christmas, achievements of one sort or another. Presents opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas? Travel at the holidays or stay home and circle the wagons? Thanksgiving dinner or brunch? Favorite home cooked meal on your birthday or dinner out in a fancy place? Homemade sweaters beautifully packaged or money in a card-pick out something you like? Paper plates picnic style or the good china?  

While you or your intended may think you don't really care one way or the other about the traditions you grew up with, once you marry it quite often turns out you actually do. There is something about leaving your family and forming a new branch with your beloved that makes a person suddenly attach importance and significance to the familiar traditions that say home to them. Or one or both of you just assume that of course we won't open presents on Christmas Eve, only to discover your counterpart was assuming that of course you would.  

These are seemingly small things, but remember what I said about the small things? Small things accumulate and become big fat snowballs, so its good to at least have some conversations about what home means to you, what family means to you, and especially as holidays approach, what you are hoping yours will look like.  

I think it's nice to incorporate a bit of both of you into your own family celebrations, which also means we can't dig our heels in about everything. When it comes to tradition I excel at the digging in of the heels. Sometimes I think God moved me to England just to show me I could indeed survive Christmas without being in the middle of my great big extended family. Maybe not the only reason, but it was for sure a bonus. 

In fact as it turned out, Christmas on our own was a whole new kind of magic, and we managed to make special all kinds of holidays and celebrations while living across the pond. They are memories I wouldn't trade for anything.

I don't use the word compromise a lot, because in my experience there is of course some compromise in marriage, but often what that looks like is one of you letting go of 100% of your expectation some of the time, and your spouse releasing 100% of his sometimes too. 

New traditions are often born out of neccessity, perhaps due to geography or finances or work committments. Sometimes new traditions come about because you take a little of his and a little of yours, stir them together, and voila-new tradition. Every couple will have to decide what works for them, but it's best to begin the conversation about how Christmas will look prior to December, and if having a box with a bow on it for your birthday is important to you then say so. 

Like everything else in marriage, how holidays, special days, and milestones will be celebrated comes wrapped in expectation, so in a word-don't assume. 

Two words I know, but I couldn't  manage to say it in one. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for 'Specially Special

Today is the day in which I shall attempt to recap the weekend that was, so everybody strap in. Daughter1 phoned home with her happy news about 9:30 on Thursday evening.  Not that we were all sitting around the phone or anything. I played it cool. Okay, not really, but I did manage to say a simple hello, what's up? and she said, 'You Know!!'. 

Yes! Since February, but I may have mentioned that here already. ahem.   

Daughter2, her boyfriend, the hubs and I had a nice day on Friday. We had lunch out then went to see Draft Day, which we all liked. Kevin Costner knows how to make a sports movie, plus he's aging very well. Just sayin'.  

I have already recapped the Friday night festivities, which you can read about here, so I won't re-tell that bit again now. You're welcome.

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we spent most of it outdoors. I realized pretty quickly that we are a house geared towards girls, because right away the boys asked if we had a glove, a ball, anything they could toss around in the backyard. I have a teeny tiny tennis raquet belonging to Molly the American Girl Doll. Will that work? 

Hubs literally sprinted down to the basement and came up with our old lacrosse sticks, a ball, and his mitt, and the three guys proceeded to play some some version of catch. As an aside, please pay no attention to our grass. It's been a long winter, and we're still down in the 30's at night so, yeah.  

It was convertible weather (with a jacket on), so hubs took Daughter2's boyfriend for a spin in the little red car.

And then he talked the guys into a hike through the woods to the top of our hill. Hubs has been swimming in a sea of estrogen for thirty years, and I'm so happy he's gaining a son. 

  While the men were being manly, we girls mostly did this-

You can't help sparkles! A lot. 

We did wrangle them inside to dye Easter eggs, and once they saw they had no choice they quickly got on board. We all felt it was important for the fiance to see the intensity with which his future wife tackles this project.

Saturday evening hubs and I had arranged for a little celebration, NYC style. We had a driver pick us up at the house, then headed into Manhattan for dinner.

We dined in a restaurant in the Village called One if By Land, Two if By Sea, which at one time belonged to former Vice President, Aaron Burr. It was his carriage house, then later a pub and brothel, and finally a restaurant beginning in 1910. Do you know much about Aaron Burr? As it happens, neither did we, so I made a little trivia game for the car ride over, and we educated ourselves. Any excuse to play a game my hubs would say.

The restaurant is rumored to be haunted, but we saw no signs of that during our visit. One if By Land is always rated as one of the most romantic restaurants in NYC, and I have to agree. The setting is intimate, with lots of low lit chandeliers, wonderful food, and just the right level of attention from our very nice wait staff.

Hubs made the loveliest, most heart felt toast, which made the bride and her mama a little teary eyed. And the sister was quietly sobbing, but what can I say? We're an emotional bunch here.

As we drove home we noticed the city had kindly lit the Empire State Building in pastels just for us, or possibly Easter, but we prefer to think it was for us.

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful and there were baskets and breakfast, and then church and more picture taking. The boys are almost used to me and my camera. Almost.

Can I just say too, that one of my most favorite things is looking down a church pew that is filled with my people? My heart feels like it wants to just spill right out and over.

After church we had our traditional lunch menu of baked ham, pineapple stuffing, deviled eggs, and roasted asparagus, and then the guys played pool while we girls may or may not have opened up the box that has held my wedding dress for the past thirty years. I think I'll save that for another post. Maybe.

And I guess you know what happened next. In what always feels like the blink of an eye suitcases were being loaded into the car, and goodbyes were being said, and grown up children were boarding trains and planes until the next time.

"Where we love is home-home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. 

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 171

The Hodgepodge is back after a much needed break last week. If you're here visiting from the A-Z Blog Challenge, and are looking for my post on the letter S, it will be up a little later today. Much later actually, but before tomorrow so no rules broken. Not that there are actual rules, it's just that I like to set deadlines for myself to be sure I get all the letters in on time.  I would never want to be labeled a blog challenge slacker.

Anyway, here are the questions that need answering on your own blog for our Wednesday link up. Hop back here tomorrow to add your blog to the party!

1. April 22nd is Earth Day. Are you inspired by nature? In what way?

2. Down to earth, four corners of the earth, move heaven and earth, not have an earthly chance, or salt of the earth...which earthly idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.

3. Share one piece of advice you might give a newly engaged couple.

4. When did you last engage someone to perform a job, task, service, home repair, or improvement? On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the best) how would you rate their work and/or your satisfaction with the job or service provided?

5. When did you last find yourself engaged in small talk? Are you awkward or an expert or somewhere in between?

6.  What was the last historic place you visited?

7. The world would be a better place if we just__________________________.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I know everyone is posting their Easter pictures and weekend recaps today, and trust me when I say I have a lot to recap, but... I'm going to save all that for tomorrow. Did I tell you my Daughter1 got engaged last Thursday, and besides Easter we celebrated that event this weekend too?

Well we did, and I have many words and more than a few pictures to share, but first there's today.

When I settled on my A-Z Blog Challenge theme of 'married with children' there were a few words that popped into my head right off the bat, and today's word is one of them. I will go ahead and tell you up front it's not a happy word. In fact, it's one of those icky words that shows up at one time or another in, what I feel is safe to say, all marriages.

R is for Resentment

We all have expectations going in to marriage, and then heaps more expectation is added to that pile once children enter the picture. I think for the most part our expectations are a reflection of the homes we were raised in, and the roles our own parents played or didn't play, as we grew up.  

Men and women come into marriage oftentimes assuming their spouse will manage the same home and family responsibilities that their own mother or father managed. Will you both work? Share household chores?  Who plans meals, shops, and cooks? Who manages the money? When children come along, how will their physical and emotional needs be met, and by whom? Will one parent stay home, or is daycare an expectation? Will you spend all your weekend hours together? Have girls or boys nights out? Vacation with family? Never vacation? 

I'm not specifically doling out advice to my bride-to-be daughter this month (okay, maybe I am) but hey she reads here, and this word is one she will likely have to work out within her own marriage some day. She is marrying a boy with a calling, a boy who will have an exceedingly demanding job, both in terms of the long hours his profession requires, as well as in responsibility and mental focus. He'll need to stay on top of an ever changing field, which means a lifelong commitment to learning. There will certainly be room for a wife to feel resentment.

Dear all brides-to-be-

Resentment is a weed, and should be killed before it has a chance to grow. 

Been there, done that, but maybe not always as quickly as I should have. 

I imagine most married people reading here have had occasion to feel resentment. I think I hate that feeling more than almost any other. That first year as a mother of two I remember feeling irritable and resentful, sleep deprived and just plain exhausted. It's not like hubs was out living it up either. He was driving an hour+ to work, racking up frequent flyer miles with lots of business travel,  travel that sometimes meant leaving on a Sunday afternoon in order to be in some other city for an early Monday morning meeting. These things were not within his power to change, but nobody said resentment was logical.  

I know some men who want to (and do!) spend every Saturday and Sunday playing golf with their pals, or lying stretched out in their favorite chair watching back to back sporting events. My hubs has never been one of those men, not as a husband to me or as a father to his daughters. I'm sure he sometimes wanted to, but he's always put his family first, and usually done so with a smile. I also know men who resent their wife spending time with girlfriends, spending money on herself, or pursuing hobbies that don't include him. There's all sorts of places resentment can rear it's ugly head. 

Even in this empty nest season of life, there have been times where hubs has traveled a ridiculous amount for work, and I've been home, and then the weekend arrives and he's thinking he can relax and lay low, and I'm thinking, 'Let's go do something." 

Expectation and resentment go hand in hand in relationships. 

I don't think you can necessarily predict going in what it is you may come to resent as you live life with another human, but I do think you can have a plan to minimize and handle resentment as it attempts to de-rail marriage. And I think this simple statement is the secret to a happy marriage in pretty much all areas actually, but particularly when you feel resentment creeping in.  

Put the needs of your spouse before your own. 

I'm not saying don't take care of yourself, but marriage above all else needs to be lived out unselfishly. I know that notion is contrary to so much of what is out there in the world at large, but when you are in a marriage where that other person puts your needs and desires before their own, it is a beautiful thing. Does it always happen? No, of course not...we're marrying other humans remember? And sometimes it's hard. Really hard. Because, as we jokingly say in our house, 'I want what I want.'-ha! 

We all know what resentment feels like. We can recognize the early warning signs...the growing knot in our stomach, the tension that seeps into our tone, the way our head fills with thoughts of whatever it is that's bugging us, or whatever it is we're wanting but not getting, the mental list you begin constructing of how over-worked, over-stressed, over-burdened, over-everything you are.

I read somewhere recently that many marriages break up, not over big serious things, but over an accumulation of small resentments never dealt with, that have now built up into an unbreakable wall. So what helps? I'm not a therapist, I just play one on my blog,...

1. A hot bath. I'm serious. I believe a long hot soak in the tub can help you see life differently.

2. A nap. See reasoning in #1. 

3. Making a list of three things things I love about my hubs.

4. Praying for him. 

5. Praying for me.  

6. Telling him what's bothering me, what I was hoping for or expecting, using words to try to figure out a compromise, the right time, which is generally not when he has just walked in the door. 

7. Re-read that list I made in #3. 

We most often define love in terms of what it is, yet in that that oft quoted scripture, what it's not is given equal importance. I don't know a lot, but I do know those words were not written there by chance. 

" is not irritable or resentful...
1 Corinthians 13:5

So tend your garden my sweet daughter, and brides everywhere, for in so doing you make room for love to bloom bigger and more beautifully with every season of married life. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quite a Night

So where was I?

Oh yes, my Daughter1 is engaged!!!

I wouldn't be posting today, except skipping a letter of the alphabet would make me twitch. I'm going with something short and sweet like the bride-to-be.

Hubs and I collected the happy couple from the Amtrak station while Daughter2 and her boyfriend finished making dinner and setting up for a mini-celebration. Daughter2 bought that super cute bag for her sister and the hot pink package is a personalized Erin Condren Wedding Planner I'd purchased.

Remember I've known for over two months (I know!! Two months!!)  that this day was coming so I had plenty of time to order something personalized. We are huge fans of Erin Condren planners in our house. This one has the names of the bride and groom printed on the cover in a pretty font, but the markers are hiding that.

Daughter2 made these positively fabulous vanilla almond cupcakes with cream cheese icing, complete with silver sprinkles and wedding-y wrappers.

Did I mention they were fabulous? We also had balloons and a banner and a champagne toast and then dinner at 9:30 PM which is just how we roll around here sometimes. 

So far having a bride-to-be in the family is sublime.

Happy Easter everyone! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Will You Marry Me?

When I chose my theme for the A-Z Blog Challenge this year ('married with children'), it's possible I was privy to a secret that today I can finally share.

P is for Proposal

My precious first born baby girl and her sweet boy are officially engaged!

He asked the question last night, she said yes, and now all that's left is the happily ever after.

They're headed here for the weekend and I cannot wait to hug my girl, gush over her ring, and overwhelm my future son in law with excessive picture taking, happy tears, and lots of words. I will try to contain myself, but y'all...hubs had a phone call from the boyfriend over two months ago, so we have been keeping this quiet for what feels like forever. Daughter1 couldn't believe it when we told her how long we'd known the plan, and her sister even got to see the ring way back in early February. February!! I know!!

The groom was away for six weeks on an assignment and then there is all the distance and complicated logistics to be worked out, so Easter weekend was the day. Personally I cannot think of a better weekend to ask a sweet, tender-hearted, faithful girl to be your bride.

I have much more to say-ha!, but there's a whole lot happening here this weekend, and I don't want to miss a minute. I'd love for you to hop over to Daughter1's blog and say hello.  As you might imagine, she is only a little bit over the moon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Golden Oldies

It's Thursday, and since we've conveniently landed on letter O in the A-Z Blog Challenge today, let's keep it simple.

O is for Golden Oldies

I'm so happy to have both my girls home for the Easter Weekend. Both their boys will be here too so a full house, which in my opinion is the best kind. My girlies are best buds, and they don't get to see one another in person nearly often enough, which means weekends like this one are always special.

So let's talk Easter. I love this day perhaps more than any other single day of the year. Easter marks a miraculous moment in time, a moment that through the centuries has remained constant. Sure. True. A day set aside especially to celebrate God's great love for us, and the gift of hope He gave this tired troubled earth. That gift still there for the taking.

In spite of snow in the middle of April, the ground still yields to the One who made it, and never is that more evident than in springtime. The days become longer, the sun shines brighter, life blooms.

Spring unfolds ever so slowly in this part of the country, but I think the anticipation, the small glimpses we're given before we see the natural world in all its glory, helps us notice and appreciate it all the more.

Are those little girls in that photo too cute, or what?

We always begin the day with Easter baskets at your seat in the kitchen. Yes, still. You are never too old for an Easter basket. The boyfriends are going to discover the truth of that statement this year too-ha!

One of our most favorite moments captured on video was Daughter2 at age three spying her basket and shouting, 'TAPE!!  I GOT MY VERY OWN TAPE!!' Toddlers and scotch tape equals match made in heaven.

After baskets there would always be an egg hunt. The boys coming to my house this year can relax...we won't make them hunt eggs. We will however, insist they dye some because certain traditions you just don't mess with.

Oh my stars, could they be any cuter?  I think not.  My mom bought those coats which are too precious for words. They wore them for two or three Easters because we grow 'em slow around here. Same thing could be said about our tulips. That flower bed they're standing in is pretty impressive, isn't it? In my defense we'd been in that house less than a year.  

I have always loved pastels at Easter. In NJ it quite often feels like winter on the day, but in Maryland spring came a little earlier. Everybody's growin' up. Ages  9 and 7 in yellow and pink, with fancy frilly 'church' socks and brand new Easter shoes.

Pay no attention to the flower bed.  

I couldn't find the 'before church' photo of my girls at ages 8 and 10 so I'll have to settle for a basket shot.  Daughter2 is the spitting image of my sister here.  My sister will say daughter2 is the spitting image of me.  People always thought my sister and I were twins, but we didn't get it. When I look at this picture I get it.

This shot captures the essence of daughter1-

Sweetness personified.  

My hair?
It was the 90's people.

Fast forward a few more years, and Easters looked something like this-

In high school my girls spent Easter breaks with Young Life, in places like Romania and Bulgaria, doing muddy work assignments and loving on orphans.

Seeing first hand how people the world over need to hear and know the message of hope that Easter brings. 

I'm not sure how the verse found in John 3:16 became something to be mocked, but in today's culture it seems it has. Still, everything you need to know about Easter is found right there-

'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.'

I pray your weekend is filled with sunshine and family, and most of all with the knowledge of God's great love for you and the hope He offers each one of us at Easter and always.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not the Hodgepodge

I've declared spring break in the Wednesday Hodgepodge this week, because one post today was all I could manage.

Almost manage.

Try to manage.

A-ny-way...the Hodgepodge returns at its usual day and time next week, but today you'll have to settle for the letter N. I have a meeting here all morning, along with a plumber coming for a pipe repair in the garage (thank you winter), and an appointment at the salon this afternoon. Oh, and company arriving tomorrow, so I need to vacuum and pretend to dust.

And it snowed overnight which is neither here nor there, but felt like it should be mentioned.

I enjoy participating in the A-Z blog Challenge every April, and I especially love blogging around a theme. The only problem I run into is that life outside my theme continues to happen during the month of April, and I like to record that too.

Daughter2 has been home since Saturday, her first trip back to the Garden State since Christmas. Whaaat?  Mothers of littles, this is what life looks like when your babies grow up and get real jobs many states away. You gotta learn to deal.

Rest assured you will, but it's a process.

I told Daughter2 I'd need a letter n word to go along with some words and pictures in which she's featured today, and she suggested with a giggle, 'Naughty?'  Ha! I won't lie when I say that word popped into my head too. As a tiny tot, this child did spend a lot of time on the naughty step, although these days she is anything but.

In her defense, she wasn't really naughty. Just impulsive, talkative, strong willed, determined, a lover of living life at full throttle, and smarter than the average 2-year old and sometimes her mother. She was also adorable, which was her saving grace.

These days my once daring toddler is an elementary school teacher, currently enjoying a full week away from her own little sweeties. Truly she has the nicest class in her school, and she's not the only one who says so. As much as she loves her students, even grown up girls relish time away to rest and regroup. To visit 'home', sleep in their old bed upstairs, allow their mama to buy them lunch and a brand new Easter dress.

Mama needs that too.

Mothers and daughters need time to snuggle up under a blanket on a perfectly perfect Sunday afternoon, time to chat about all manner of things including recipes, class projects, old friends, new friends, boyfriends, moving apartments, summer plans, and everything else under the sun.

N is for Never Too Old

Yesterday she tagged along to my Bible Study and heard at least ten times that there's no doubt whose daughter she is. We were looking at some old pictures taken when I was her age, and had I been ahem, a natural blonde back then, we could have been identical twins.

Daughter2 spent some time grading papers on Monday afternoon. When she was a little girl she imagined afternoons spent grading papers, and as is true of most things we long for as children, the reality of adulthood is slightly different. Still I think she doesn't mind so much.

One of my favorite things about having daughters in the house is the sound of music. Daughter2 plays the piano, but since she lives in a tiny apartment, she doesn't get to play unless she's home.

Most afternoons she wanders into the room where our piano sits, and as she plays and sings all feels right with the world. I stand in the kitchen and listen and I think about that once upon a time 9-year old with bright blue eyes and a boat load of confidence. The one who learned her musical A-B-C's in a neighborhood studio, who made her piano teacher laugh with her quick wit and easy smile. She was, in a word-irresistible.

She still is.

Now what does all this have to do with marriage?  Well, nothing really.  Except to say one day you look around your dining room table and realize you've got a houseful of adults.

And you are not sad.

Instead you and your hubs smile a lot, and you marvel at the enchanting people your babies have become. People whose lives and hearts and DNA are inextricably linked with your own.

Mothers of littles, this is what your life looks like when your babies grow up.
It's a different kind of beautiful....

...but beautiful all the same.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The M Word

No the M word is not marriage.
M is for Money

'I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to, money money, must be funny...'

Name the band who sang those lyrics.

Of course it would be a lot more fun here to discuss the music of Abba than it would be to talk money, because really what isn't??? But my A-Z Blog Challenge theme this month is marriage, so discuss it we must.

Technically money is one of those topics that should be discussed prior to marriage, but it's also one that comes up on a pretty regular basis once you've tied the knot.  Ha-that might be an understatement of gargantuan proportion.

Hubs and I talked just a very little bit about money prior to getting married, mostly in the sense that we'd definitely be needing some. I'm only half kidding. We each had college degrees, our first real jobs, automobiles, and small checking accounts. Very small.

Oh, and love but you can't live on that!

We joined our meager checking accounts when we got married, and that's worked for us. What's mine is his, what's his is mine, and that's how it's been since the day we said I do. We began our life together living in a modest apartment furnished on the cheap, put money into savings accounts, bought insurance, worked hard, and planned for the future.

In 1984 most of our friends who married were in similar positions. Back then young adults didn't necessarily feel like they needed to have all their ducks in a row regarding home ownership and hefty bank accounts in order to commit. We just got married and figured together anything was possible.

'For richer for poorer...'  
We hoped for the former, but expected some of both. 

I know in the year 2014 young adults have a different mindset, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having money in the bank, or owning a home before you marry. I'm just saying it's not essential, and those things don't guarantee happiness or satisfaction within a marriage.

What I do think helps happiness along is knowing if your intended is a saver or a spender, and also being honest about which category you fall into. 

It's understanding who pays the bills on a monthly basis, who manages larger investments, and what will your budget look like.  Will you take vacations? Give money to your church and/or causes close to your heart? Tuck money away for the college education of children not yet conceived? 

It's talking about your hopes and dreams and plans for the future, and how finances or the lack thereof, will help or hinder those plans. 

In almost every survey taken, or study conducted on the top stressors in marriage, money problems rank in the top three, often taking the number one spot.

Hi Girls-

Have an honest conversation about the M word before you get married. 
And keep having honest conversations as the years roll by.

Mom (and Dad)

No hubs doesn't blog here, but I know he'd say the same.