Things left unsaid

My second grade teacher nicknamed me “Chatterbox.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain that one. Some things, apparently, never change.

However, despite my ability to move my mouth constantly and chatter incessantly about very little of consequence, I find it hard to say the important words out loud.

We’re driving back north after a weekend with our families. We spent time at the races, met a brand-spanking-new nephew, loved on our other nieces and nephew, met another- less new but still very tiny- cousin, and had an afternoon of farm exploring. We talked, we laughed, we enjoyed two full consecutive days of warmth and sunshine. It was a wonderful, fulfilling weekend. All three boys- and the dog- are snoring in the backseat.

Yet somehow I’m finding myself shooting off text after text on our way home to say all the things I didn’t say while we were there. The “I forgot to mention…” or “I never asked you about…” or, “here’s a story I wanted to tell you but didn’t get the chance,” peppered with the occasional, “Oh, crap, I think we left…(insert someone’s unaccounted for personal item) at your house.”

Two weeks later, on our drive home, I’m reflecting on all of this, plus another weekend of running into old friends and classmates I haven’t seen in, erm, well over a decade (closer to two, actually, but let’s not dwell on that) and how Bon Jovi himself once said “who says you can’t go home?” And, well, who can argue with Bon Jovi?

Ryan has teased me in the past about my ability to spend all weekend at home and continue chatting with my mom for the whole two hour drive home. He’s not wrong. In fact, often our conversation flows from the weekend for weeks without pause- at any time of day or night. (As evidenced by the fact that we were still exchanging texts last night well after midnight.)

I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder and actual physical connection fortifies bonds that phone calls and text messages can’t touch. It’s such a gift- particularly as a parent- to be able to be able to keep in contact via text,(I don’t know how my mom carried on telephone conversations when we were kids if I was anything like my kids are. See chatterbox, above. I can barely call to make a dentist appointment, never mind catching up with far-away family) but you just can’t replace the gift of being in the same room as those you love. That leaves the opportunity to convey everything one may want to say, without having the actual conversation. “Miles don’t matter. This moment is important. I love you. I’m here.”

But then…

some things are better left unsaid.



Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m an Adult Now

Well, it’s official, y’all. I think I’ve finally become a real, mature adult.

It’s taken a few decades to get here, but I can honestly say that I truly recognized my maturity on this Valentine’s Day.

Ryan came home from work yesterday, a little freaked out after talking to other females he works with and hearing their expectations for Valentine’s Day. They asked him what he had planned for his wife, and he told them he didn’t have an extravagant plan. (He failed to mention that last weekend he had been trying to line up a sitter so we could sneak away somewhere for a little getaway).

My husband is really amazing that way. Valentine’s Day has never been a real thing for us. When I was younger, inexperienced in life and love, I wished for romantic Valentine’s Day surprises. When I was about 12 or 13, I decided I wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding because I thought it was the most romantic day of the year. When I discussed this plan with my aunt Sharon around that time, she pointed out that when you marry the right person, ANY day is the most romantic day of the year. So that plan fell by the wayside. Still, I sent Ryan telepathic Valentine’s Day messages that I wanted all of the wine and roses and chocolate and jewelry I could get, but never vocalized my desires because I wanted him to know all on his own what I wanted. He’s always delivered a small surprise: always chocolates, sometimes a small piece of jewelry, sometimes flowers, sometimes all of the above. But he’s notorious for surprising me with spontaneous romantic gestures on random days throughout the year. He doesn’t need a calendar or a big-label greeting card company to tell him when to extend a romantic gesture.

This morning I made my trip to shop for valentines for my family while they were at school and work. For Ryan I had decided on candy and frozen pizzas. Sounds weird, I know, but he’s been asking for pizza all week. So I thought if I bought frozen pizza, we could have a romantic pizza snack to ourselves after the boys went to bed. I bought the boys each a little box of candy- more than enough to supplement the sugar highs they all brought home from school- and called it a day on my shopping.

I was in the kitchen making a very non-exciting dinner of oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and homemade mac and cheese when my tall, handsome valentine walked in the door laden with grocery bags, a liquor store bag, and… a premade deli pizza.

I bust out laughing. He was so confused until I pulled his “valentine” out of the freezer. We congratulated ourselves on thinking so much alike, and he handed me the liquor store bag with not one but two bottles of my favorite wine. Then he started to unload the other grocery store bag. When he pulled out three miniature boxes of chocolates identical to the ones I’d purchased for the boys, we both started to laugh.

Friends, that moment- the moment of knowing that celebrating Valentine’s Day in the simplest way, with my four guys who piled on top of me yesterday morning and declared me their “Princess,” my favorite wine, chocolates, and frozen pizzas on the same night Grey’s Anatomy is on, is the only way I care to celebrate Valentine’s Day, ever- that moment was so clarifying.

I became a real adult today.

And it feels damn good.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.



Goodbye, Summer…until we meet again

It’s been a busy summer.  A trying summer, with two 3 year olds and a 5 year old at home all day every day.  My patience has been tested, and the guilt-meter has been off the charts, knowing every trying day is a day I’ll regret when they all go to school.

We’ve purchased three backpacks.  We’ve attended orientation for one, scheduled the other two, and fulfilled three school supply lists, gone school clothes shopping, and have filled the pantry with lunch and snack-packing supplies.

One week ago, my firstborn baby headed off to his first day of kindergarten.  Four days ago, he turned six.

He was calm, and he was ready for Kindergarten.  Way more ready than his mama.

He offered to get my camera ready for our traditional first-day-of-school shots.  He made his bed, made his own breakfast, brushed his teeth, dressed himself, and kissed us goodbye in the garage.  And then, when the bus came, he turned and gave me one last kiss and said, “I love you, mama,” and got on the bus without looking back.  That moment alone nearly killed me.  Each day since has gotten incrementally easier, but next week the twins are off to preschool and the cord-cutting process will begin all over again.

I’m sad to see summer end.  I’m sad to have to say goodbye to the warm days and sunshine and afternoons in the pool.  I’m sad to see the end of the last summer before all three boys are in school.

But I’m satisfied by what we accomplished this summer.  Our oldest boy is confident in his swimming abilities without his life vest.  The older twin is an independent swimmer with his life vest on.  And the littlest one isn’t far behind.  We played mini golf, spent a few days at the zoo, took a beach trip and visited a new aquarium and a battleship and a cave.  We squeezed in a few date nights, checked out a hot air balloon festival, spent several Sundays watching Ryan race his new go-kart.  We had play dates, took walks, hikes, and bike rides, and spent a lot of time in the pool.  Through all the tough and trying days of being at home with a five year old and two three year olds, we made a lot of memories this summer.

And now that they’re on their way back to school, I’m wrapping it up by fulfilling one last summer goal that had, until today, gone unmet: I’m sitting on the back deck, fresh out of the pool with a cold drink and my laptop.  I’m planning to focus more time on some exciting ideas: a new look for the blog is coming soon.  I have TWO secret projects under wraps, and I’m working on some new design projects that I hope to share on the blog in the coming months.  Stay tuned, friends.  Mama’s got free time on her hands, and it just might be fun…




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!