What Really Matters

Emma GraceMy daughter just recently turned one so of course I wanted to have a big first birthday party for my little princess (that was the theme!). I drove my husband crazy with all the time (and money!) I spent on decorations, planning and cleaning to make ready for this momentous occasion. I know she will never actually remember it, but I was excited about hosting such a special event at our new home.

It was the first time practically everyone would see the house so with my Type A personality, I spent zero hours sleeping and every waking moment getting the place in tip top shape! Needless to say, there would realistically be no way mentally or financially that we would have the entire house furnished and decorated, I did my best. A part of me was worried about what people would think and that’s new for me because usually I don’t really care (ha!). I think because this home is so much a reflection of me and my taste since I did most of the decorating (okay, let’s be honest, I did it all and LOVED every second!), I wanted people to really love and appreciate it the same way that I do. I realize our style isn’t for everyone (think Farmhouse/Chip & Joanna Gaines style) but I love it, I really really do. And I spent a lot of time making it a place I could love. Online orders, in-store orders, “Renee, why is there another package at our door” my husband would shout and I’d pretend not to hear him, returns, returns and more returns! I also made a lot of things too, centerpieces, re-upholstered dining room chairs (thanks for the help, mom!) and my personal favorite, painting and distressing with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (check out my before and after bench here).

Yes, it was great…at first. My husband and I would argue about how I ‘get to do all the fun decorating stuff’ and he ‘just gets to do the shit I don’t want to do’. On some level, I saw where he was coming from. But as much as it was really fun, at times it was really daunting. I spent a lot of time trying to save money by making many of the items in our home. I had five weeks to get as much as I could done. Renovations with a child aren’t easy so that meant either going on my lunch break during work to shop and doing projects in the evening when she went to bed. But I’m happy to say it was worth it because we have enough of the house done to where I feel comfortable (minus our bedroom, we have no furniture so it’s kind of a mess).

But that’s not even the point. None of that stuff really matters. It’s all materialistic. What matters is family. We are blessed. We have a beautiful home and we are healthy. These are the moments that matter…

It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of everyday life. We are too busy and there’s never enough time. The other day I took my daughter to Partridge Creek to play in the water fountains. There was a moment when she walked towards me smiling and laughing. I scooped her up and hugged her tight. It was perfect. That’s what really matters…moments like those. Not house chores, not decorating, not party planning…

I’m happy to say her party was a success and I feel like all my planning paid off. But the best part of her birthday for me was the day my husband and I took her to the zoo as a family. That was our birthday with her. And those are the moments to me that matter the most. Find some time this weekend to enjoy what really matters 🙂

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The Overuse of ‘I Love You’

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It’s wonderful to hear the phrase ‘I love you’. Whether it’s from your child/children, your spouse, a family member or friend. It’s almost magical the way it makes you feel. You are special, you are appreciated…you are loved. It’s even more special when you hear it for the first time from someone you also love. It’s a wonderful feeling to give and receive.

I feel like there comes a point in your relationship, whether it be dating or marriage, where overuse of the phrase ‘I love you’ starts to happen. It becomes as casual as ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’. We say it every time we see the person and on every phone call. We say it so often that it becomes habitual. We say it quick and even mumbled, we use it as an apology, we say it when we’re angry, we say it when we’re needy or need something, we say it because it was said to us first and sometimes we say it when we don’t feel it. The importance of the phrase becomes diminished, less important and all too common. It loses its magic, its importance and its meaning.

Yesterday my husband and I got into an argument. We both went up to bed together but didn’t talk. I said goodnight to which he followed with ‘goodnight, I love you.’ I waited to say it back. I was angry. We didn’t resolve the conflict and I felt like he said it just to say it. I felt like he didn’t mean it. I know he did and he does, but in the moment, it felt fake. I mumbled it back in my unhappy voice and went to bed.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to use this phrase. It’s important to tell those that we love how we feel because you never know what could happen to you or them. The feelings of unconditional love that you share with your family are foundational. They are the pillars which you build your lives upon and around. They are the words that give you hope, strength and the ability to fight through difficult times. But there are also words that when said, do the complete opposite. The phrase is used as a weapon. We use to get what we want. We use it to make our partner feel bad. We say it just because. We say it just to hear it back. We spit it out like word vomit and we selfishly take it in without gratitude.

I’m grateful my husband says I love you, even when I feel he’s saying it just to say. He never fails me there. I remember the first time he said it to me standing in our old kitchen hugging. I couldn’t stop smiling. I still get butterflies when I think about it.

Love is a beautiful thing. If you love someone, tell them…tell them often and always, just mean it. Really, truly mean it. Don’t say it to get out of an argument or to get something that you want. Don’t use it as a test or a punishment. Life is short, love the ones you’re with. One of my favorite sayings is a Swedish proverb, “Love me when I least deserve it, for that is when I really need it.” I’m lucky I have a husband who does this and through it all, I know we will always love one another.

How to be a Partner in Your Marriage

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As a wife and mother, I think it’s hard to remember how to be a partner in my marriage. I get so caught up in telling my husband all the things he needs to do that I stop telling him the things I should like how much I love and appreciate him. I forget about the feelings we had when we first met, the love that grew over time and all the special moments in between. They become distant memories and at times, so does our love.

My sister, who was the maid of honor at our wedding, said something I’ll forget, “Always remember how you feel on this day and try to live each day like that”. I haven’t done that…we haven’t done that. I’m too focused on my to-do lists, my stress and my anxiety. I don’t treat him like a partner and I don’t act like one either. I become resentful towards him for all the things I do as a wife and mother instead of how grateful I am for everything that he provides our family.

It’s easy to get angry, feel frustrated and place blame. It’s harder to be understanding, loving when you want to be yelling and accepting of each others flaws. Marriage is so tough, it really is. It’s something you have to work at every single day. It’s a partnership that requires participation from both parties. Of course there are times when one person is giving more effort than the other, but that’s when you go the extra mile. That’s when you comfort instead of criticize, love instead of leave and really be a partner instead of a pessimist.

The balance of wife, motherhood and work is challenging. I am constantly finding myself in an internal battle of how to manage and at times, an external battle with those I love most. I think the best way to be a partner in your marriage is to just be there. Be present. Put down the phones, share a meal together, have a date night (even if it’s in your own home!) and communicate. The biggest fights can sometimes come from miscommunication. Men and women have different roles in marriage but the common ground begins with love. After all, isn’t that what brought you two together in the first place? You fell in love. You saw this person over time as someone you can truly spend the rest of your life with. You got engaged, you got married and along that way maybe you’ve had a few kids (and pets!). But the one thing that should never change is your love.

Be the kind of partner you want your spouse to be. And never, ever ever give up. You took the vows and you made the promises. You are a team…so partner up and enjoy the ride!

The More Gray the Merrier….and other random thoughts.

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I have strands of gray in my hair. It happens with old age. I consider myself old these days. I haven’t been blogging lately because I’m too busy getting gray hair from all the stress!

Last Saturday we cleaned the kitchen in our new house (just our kitchen) for five hours. FIVE HOURS! Oh, if I had all the money in the world I would have just hired someone to build us a house and then another person to handle all the stress while I just shop for decor and pick paint colors! So back to last Saturday, when my gray really started to kick in…I finally sent my husband to get us some food realizing it was three o’clock in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten all day. I luckily found two tiny bags of Skittles in my purse which I dumped into my mouth immediately. I was experiencing a Clorox bleach and sugar high all at once, it wasn’t pretty. I continued to find more things ‘wrong’ with our new home that I wasn’t too happy about, which caused for a phone call telling my husband to stop and get alcohol before he came back. Alcohol and Chipotle…my Saturday.

The days all mesh together now. I was sick, Emma was really sick, I was sick over her being sick….lots of sickness. Then there’s the new house…the cleaning, the paint that isn’t getting done so we are stuck because we can’t move in until the paint is done and we can’t get new carpet until the paint is done and dry and we can’t get the other carpets cleaned until the paint is done. It’s all about the paint being done….THAT ISN’T DONE!

I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep. I toss and turn with the lists in my head for the new home, the move from the old home to the new home, regular ‘mom’ things and trying to just function like a normal human being despite being one hundred percent sure I’m a zombie these days…or a robot who only wants to eat carbs.

Carbs are like my gray hair, the more the merrier. I love carbs. They are so bad for you and my best friend when I am stressed. I’ve eaten so many carbs lately I’m starting to look like a potato, lumps and all. Which reminds me…working out! HA! I haven’t done that since I injured my back three weeks ago which isn’t healing because I carry an 18-pound baby around (add another 25 pounds for the car seat!). I desperately need to work out, it’s the only thing that gives me energy…maybe I’ll just start drinking Red Bull…or coffee?

I just got an email to all employees at work about a large tape dispenser missing…is this Office Space? Where’s my stapler?

If I get through this week without killing someone or becoming an alcoholic I think I will be in good shape. Wish me luck!

Why I Will Always Love My First Home

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Home. A four-letter word that can invoke so many feelings. A place of childhood memories, family traditions, laughter and love. A place of entertaining, good food, good friends and the best’s night sleep you’ll ever have. A place of security, new beginnings and new adventures. A place of comfort and peace. Home is where the heart is. While I am so excited to move into our new home, I am also having increasing feelings of nostalgia about leaving our current one. 

 This was my home of ‘firsts’. The home where my husband made me dinner when we were first dating (I remember the meal like it was yesterday: grapes, wine, white and milk chocolate chunks to start followed by grilled chicken kabobs, vegetables and salad), the home where he first said ‘I love you’ to me as we stood in the kitchen, the home we shared all of our dreams, goals, fears and innermost secrets, the home where we had our first fight (and make up), the home that we cooked together, danced together, laughed so hard we cried together in, the home snuggled on the couch night after night in, the home we welcomed our daughter into, the home where we were grew our garden (that I will desperately miss!) and fruit trees (and these too!) and the home that even though was solely my husband’s before we got married, feels just as much mine as his. 

 Leaving our current home feels like I’m leaving a piece of me with it. A piece that has experienced so many incredible memories in it. While I’ll always carry those memories in my heart, it’s hard to leave the place that created them. I will never forget cooking dinner and dancing to One Republic’s ‘Feel Again’ in the kitchen with my husband or playing peek-a-boo through the living room curtains with my daughter. I’ll never forget the moment I took that pregnancy test and running up to tell my husband ‘we’re pregnant’ or even the simple moments like doing the dishes in the kitchen and watching my husband out the window cutting the grass or working in the garden. These are just some of the reasons I will always love my first home. 

 So as we pack up of our home of ‘firsts’, I smile through a few tears feeling blessed for all God gave us here. I know future blessings and memories await us, and I welcome them with open arms.