This Never-Ending Winter and my need for a change of scenery

We here in the northeast are experiencing the winter that won’t end.

It feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing since Halloween.  It feels like we’ve been trapped inside, staring at the same walls day after day, week after week, for half a year.  In a Facebook group I’m a member in, someone from Alaska commented last week that winter here has lasts for too long.  Alaska, people.  Let that sink in for a minute.

We’re trying to stay busy.  We’ve walked and been outside as often as we can, but sick kids and exposure to freezing temps aren’t always the best combo.  We planted seeds for veggie plants a few weeks ago.  The boys have a hockey net in the basement and can use that space to run off some extra energy.  T-ball season has started and we’re beginning to see a day or so a week that is suitable to be outside.  Regardless, we’re all tired of being inside. One day last week, upon returning from our errands, the boys filed out of my car and made a beeline for the driveway where big, fat snowflakes were beautifully, gracefully, tauntingly falling from the sky.  The three of them ran around in circles, arms spread wide, catching the flakes on their tongues.  It was heartwarming and beautiful, and I was so fulfilled to watch them, and yet…I’ll be just as fulfilled when I can sit in the grass and watch them roll up and down the driveway on their bikes, draw pictures on the concrete with sidewalk chalk, build castles and mountains in the sand, and push weeds from my flower beds in their big trucks while I soak up sun and heat.

But that’s just me.

In the meantime, I’ve stayed motivated by changing and reorganizing basically every room in our house in the last month.  I sometimes feel more energized when I rearrange things to change the flow and the way the light hits different aspects of a space.  That, in turn, gives me an idea of what accessory items are working for us and what we could maybe replace.

In our living room, for instance, I  played around with a completely different layout that seems to work really well for us.  What I noticed, though, is that we needed a new, larger area rug to tie the space together.  The rule of thumb for a rug is that it should touch all the pieces of furniture in the space to make it feel cohesive .  The rug we had isn’t big enough to do that; far too much of the floor was bare, which is not only an aesthetic problem, but a traction problem for our 12-year-old golden retriever.  She’s having a hard time getting up from the slippery floors after she’s been lying down.  So last weekend, we trooped into town, the five of us, for a family trip to Dick’s.  And I played the “Oh, but I’m the only girl, and can’t we please, please, PLEASE go to a fun store for me to look for house stuff?” card.  And we left with a rug.

I travel with the paint swatches we used on every wall in our house.  This way,  when I’m out and about, I always have the colors on hand to compare.  So, I pulled the swatches out of my purse in the middle of the store to check, and my three super manly boys and my one super manly man each grabbed a spot of the rug and trooped it to the checkout for me.

Another thing that I’ll be addressing in the living room is the blank wall above the sofa.  I’m currently searching for some artwork to frame and hang to make that more of a focal point.  My problem is deciding on what I want.  Because your space should tell your story, I don’t want something to just “put” there; I want it to be personal, have significance, and to tell a story about our family.  I have family portraits on the wall going up the stairs, so I’d like to do something artistic or inspiring in the living room.  My top ideas right now are to frame some photos of our town or from our travels and have them made into canvases, or blown up for large matted frames.  Because the sofa and curtains are neutral colors, I’d like to bring out the colors of the rug with the art…and then possibly repeat those same colors with some new throw pillows on the sofa and love seat.

I’d love to hear from you; does anyone else get suffocated by their surroundings when the weather keeps you confined in the same spaces?  How do you deal with it?  Are you painting?  Tackling a renovation project?  Replacing furniture or accessories?  Leave me a comment!







A Word on Marriage

Tomorrow is the Big Day.  Nicole and Joe will say “I Do” and enter into the lifelong journey that is wedded bliss.

I love these two.  Love, love, love them.  I met Nicole a few years ago when she earned a promotion at work, and I filled her previous position.  We became friends quickly, and it wasn’t long before we couldn’t go for more than a couple of days without chatting.

We met Joe at work, too.  Obviously, since Nicole worked there before I did, she met him first, and from what I heard, they had a mutual admiration for one another, but Joe had a strict rule that he would not ask out anyone he met at work.  Finally, over a year later, he saw Nicole out walking her dog after work, so he stopped to talk to her.  Turns out, Joe lived nearby and had a dog of a similar breed.  And the rest is history!  He proposed on New Year’s Day of 2010, and tomorrow they will pledge the rest of their lives to one another.

Tonight was rehearsal, and I, sap I am, got a lil’ misty standing there watching the two of them.  Having traveled this road with them, it’s touching to see them both so happy.

As they journey into their new life together, I feel compelled to share a bit of knowledge garnered from my years and years of relationship experience.  (Note my sarcasm.  Though Ryan and I are almost three years into wedded bliss, and nearly 8 into our relationship, we’re still “newlyweds” and still learning.  But we’ve come a long way, make no mistake.)

Probably the most important lesson we’ve learned is communication.  We knew when we started dating that communication was going to be an issue; we have two completely different styles of sharing our thoughts and feelings.  Ryan is pretty much an open book; he’ll tell you what he’s thinking or feeling and then he moves on.  He tells me, on no uncertain terms, when he’s upset, and once it’s off his chest, it’s forgotten.  On the other hand, good luck opening my book.  Because that’s where I leave my feelings.  Journals and other written forms of outlet.  But never, ever verbally.  In the past year or so, I have grown exponentially in this area though.  I’ve become a little more open about what’s going on inside, and I’ve learned that our relationship is better because of it.  Not only that, but I feel better because of it.  It’s a win/win.  It’s also been a long journey getting here.  But so worth it.

That’s my second piece of advice: though sharing a house, a bedroom and a bathroom, and basically every other detail of your life with another human being- and one of the opposite sex, at that!- can be daunting, frustrating, and at times, downright impossible… it’s so worth it.  Oh, my goodness, is it worth it.  Once you’ve established your rhythm as a married couple- the everyday routines, the mundane stuff that is life- once that happens, and you take a moment to reflect on where your life would be without the other person, you realize that the two of you are so intertwined into one another’s lives that the idea of separation for any period of time feels like a physical blow.

Don’t get me wrong here; number three is to have a life separate from one another.  Find things that interest each of you separately, and take your own time to enjoy your respective interests- those pieces of you that make you you.  Don’t force an interest in one another’s hobbies.  It’s forced, it’s fake, and it will make both of you resentful.  Ryan loves racing his RC cars.  I can take it once in awhile, but the idea of sitting with him every single week while he wrenches on a car that costs more than my closetful of shoes is in itself enough to bore me to tears.  I’m glad he does it.  I’m proud of him for being good at it.  And I love that he has an outlet for stress.  But it’s so not me.  Forcing me to like it makes me cranky.  Leading to #4…

If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  That’s an adage we all know.  What most of us fail to acknowledge is that it goes both ways.  Yes, when I’m unhappy, he knows it.  He pays.  But when he’s unhappy, I know it too.  And even when I know I didn’t do anything to lead to the unhappiness…whether it’s due to work, other stress, or occasionally something I’ve done, I make an honest effort to make it up to him in some little way.  Usually it’s through food…cooking a meal he likes, baking one of his favorite desserts (or going to the store and buying cookies, since apparently purchased ones taste better than most of my homemade ones), or DVR-ing a show I know he likes.  Sometimes, just backing off completely and giving him space is enough.  And sometimes that’s what I need too.  Fortunately, after awhile, we’ve both come to recognize the signs that the other needs a little extra love.

This thought reminds me of a sermon from a wedding we attended last year.  The message was basically that marriage is never a 50/50 venture.  It sounds neat and tidy to present it that way, but nothing could really be farther from reality.  To expect different is just asking for trouble.  Marriage is most rewarding when you know you can give that other person more of yourself than you ever thought yourself capable of, and expect nothing in return.  Because it’s what you do.  It’s love.

So I have to end with Corinthians.  Ryan came home on Valentine’s Day to find the verse scrawled across our bathroom mirror:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.

Love never fails.

Love and best wishes for a long and happy life, Nic and Joe!  Can’t wait to celebrate with you!