In a culture that tends to throw marriage out as soon as it becomes less than utopia, how do you keep a marriage thriving when it seems everyone around us encourages us to throw in the towel? The short answer?? Work. Here are some of the things that have worked really well for J and I.
1- Trust your spouse’s love.
To love someone is to believe the best in them… even when knowing their faults. So, I know that when my husband does something that hurts me, it was not meant to do so… because I trust in his love for me.
2- Always consider your spouse.
Marriage is not about putting yourself on an altar to sacrifice your happiness so that he/she can be happy. If you are miserable constantly, check if it’s right. But every day, every time CONSIDER your spouse. And I mean, at EVERY opportunity.
3- Don’t JUST be lovers.
If you are only interacting in a physical/sexual way, you will not last. Be a friend… a best friend. Relate. Connect. Share intimacy…not just sex.
4- Also… be lovers.
A husband will not feel loved when slighted physically. A wife will not feel as emotionally connected when going a period of time without intimacy. Don’t buy the lie that men are the only ones that need sex. Women do too (differently in frequency usually) just for a different purpose typically. Men actually physically need sex with their spouse regularly. Women need the emotional connection that sex provides. If you do not have sex with your spouse regularly, the man will feel rejected and the wife will feel distant. This usually creates a downward spiral of a lack of rule #1…leading to quick frustration and stupid fights.
5- Speak kindly about your spouse.
Do not fall into the caricature of speaking about your spouse as “the old lady” or “the lazy husband”. Your friends/coworkers will think of your spouse the way you tell them to. And your spouse can become the title you give them. Speak life-giving words about your spouse. Words have power.
6- Communicate to UNDERSTAND, not to win.
If you are in a disagreement and want to win, you will lose regardless of who comes out of the discussion with less bruising. Take a breath, lower your voice and try to UNDERSTAND each other.
7- Acknowledge the priority.
There is a belief today that your kids are the most important relationship in your life. IT IS A FALLACY. Your marriage is the most important relationship in the world. If it is not, it will fail. Your kids will thank you for leaving them, so you can go on date nights. Love them enough to love them second.
8- Invest in your relationship.
If there is ever a good investment to be made, invest in each other. Put money down to do date nights, vacations (sans kids), marriage conferences and gifts for each other. Put money on things that matter.
9- Be kind to each other.
A girlfriend once told me, “you are nicer to your husband than you are to other people”. While this could serve as an indictment that I should be kinder to people in general, I took it as a compliment. We should be kind to our spouses. Each spouse should speak with love, gentle tones for the purpose of giving life to the other. If you are kinder to your boss than you are to your spouse, consider this an encouragement to check your priorities. Be kind.
Some hide their lack of consideration and kindness to their spouse under the mask of humor. We have a rule: Laugh with each other never at each other. A joke is funny unless it is at the expense of someone else, especially your spouse. This allows the woman to be completely vulnerable at all times without fear and the man to feel respected. Intimacy can only be achieved when there is safety in that vulnerability.
10- Make the choice.
There is only one way to make a marriage survive daily…choose every day to put your spouse before yourself. That feeling will wear off. The “I do” because I’m turned on will fade. Choose to be a spouse of integrity that says “I love you because I choose you”. You can make decisions every day to build up your marriage or tear it down. Make a point to see the good and improve on the challenges.. together.
Marriage is not difficult. It’s not complicated. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t difficult. When done right, it is the biggest blessing this side of heaven. But at the root of it, it is a discipline in selflessness and self-sacrifice. If you can’t do that, don’t get married. But you’ll be missing out.
It feels like Christmas! And I don’t just mean the weather. New York has this magical ability to smell like Christmas… universally. No matter what “your Christmas” smells like, if you come up out of the subway and step onto the streets… you smell it! It just feels like Christmas here and I love it!
We got to have breakfast with friends today, which put us walking by our normal entrance to the park… the girls begged and I caved! We spent the rest of the morning rock climbing, flying through the air, and doing all sorts of things that give this momma a heart attack! But the kids had a blast! And we managed to get a few shots…here are some of our favorites.
Thinking about investing in an actual camera this Christmas, so you’ll know if the quality improves!! ha
Thanks for checking in! Love you guys!
We’ve all those days, right? At least, I hope we have. Otherwise, I am just the exception that has that day when I feel like the absolute worst mom in the world. Have you ever just lost it on your kids? Or equally horrible… felt absolute apathy in parenting. Have you had those days when you feel like your feet are too heavy to lift off the floor to take the next step? Have you felt like every time you transfer weight from one foot to the other, the slight shift in gravity was enough to lighten your head to the point that it may be possible to just fall straight to the floor? Have you mentally begged in your head for everyone to either just shut up or obey your every command without hesitation or rebuttal? Had a day where you wish you could walk out the door without warning and engage in some good old retail therapy? Ever had a day when you were convinced that if you hear the word “mommy” one more time, you would haul off and rage hell on anyone within ear shot? Somehow, I just don’t believe I’m the only one that has had a day like this before.
This was my yesterday. People kept asking me how I was doing, and I was always surprised at the honest response in myself. It would make sense for me to be emotional, but I haven’t been. My answer is that I’ve been kind of numb. I’m hoping that is God’s peace, but it feels different than what I’ve felt in the past when I believe I’ve experienced divine peace. It’s been something that I didn’t understand, so I couldn’t explain it to others. I kept saying, “I’m sure it’ll hit me soon.” Well, I think it hit, just not in the way I expected. I thought when it did, it would be sappy, emotional, sad, or excited… but it didn’t. It hit with me being completely overwhelmed. I just didn’t have the emotional capability to organize thoughts, plans, and children for the days ahead and it took its toll.
So what do we do when we’re spent? When we don’t have the emotional capabilities to take on the day. I am not making this list because this is what I do every time and so I am the authority on how to do it right! Quite the opposite. I am the chief screw up, and these things are the only things that work for me to get me back in a healthy and Godly place.
A very wise philosopher once said, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Ok, it was Dr. Phil, but it’s true! We so often, adhere to a modern feminist idea that states “I am woman, hear me roar!” It’s as if understanding your need for other people makes you less of a woman, less of a mom. And in a day of Pinterest and Facebook comparisons, we think we see other moms doing their job effortlessly and don’t understand why we can’t be like them! We all know that that is not real life, but it still gets to us. It’s ok! You cannot change the circumstances surrounding you, but you can change the you within the circumstances, but not if you won’t acknowledge your need. Take a breath and give yourself permission to say…”I’m having a rough time.”
Sometimes, it’s ok to text your husband in the middle of the day and say, “it’s been a rough day. I need a tag when you get home.” And then go! Just go! Anywhere! Just go where there are adults and no kids. Go where there’s absolutely no one! Go wherever you want. Just take some time. I know some women that genuinely feel bad about asking their husbands to help with the kids when they get home. Let me just say this… YOUR HUSBAND IS NOT A BABYSITTER. He does not need to be compensated or given a 24-hour notice before being asked to watch HIS CHILDREN. Now, I am also not saying that you should disregard the fact that he’s worked a full day as well. But you both have, and you need to share the load of “after work hours” work. And sometimes, you need a break. Trust me, he’d rather you go away and reset then be at home and just lose it on everyone.
How many times have we heard “please call me if you need anything”? Now, be honest. Have you ever called? Ever? We’ve said it to our friends, and we genuinely mean it. I want to help a friend that’s overwhelmed or going through a tough time. I WISH they would call, so I can show love to them, but I never call them when I need help and they’ve offered. BREAK THE CHAIN. Call that friend, so when she is going through that tough time, she knows that she can actually call you. Let’s be there for each other in more than just a philosophical way. Put that intellectual brain and soft heart to work in action and love the people around you. And allow them to love you in return.
It is 2017 and the opportunities to waste time are endless and obvious. Put down the phone. Turn off “Real Housewives of that place that you’ll never go and can’t afford and just makes you hate your life”, The Bachelor or Scandal and look at your kids. Revel in their laugh, their games, their play and make a choice. A choice to ignore the rest of the world because what matters are the little eyes that look up to you. Don’t neglect the great for the good, or in some cases…the crap you shouldn’t be filling your mind with anyway.
This one is absolutely the hardest for me. I am a nocturnal animal by nature and I have trained my kids to go to bed later, so they sleep in later…since I am famous for being able to sleep till 3 on occasion (not a joke…happened several times). When I finally get the kids in bed (at 9:00…yes, which needs to change), I feel like I actually have time to do the things that I enjoy. They are all good things. I love to take relaxing baths while reading, I catch up on my Tivo, get into the good cleaning, organize whatever project I have undoubtedly become obsessed with, or plan the next day. None of these things are bad, but I often find myself up at 3:00 am and still going strong.
There is a reason God rested on the 7th day and it’s not because He was tired. It was because He knew WE NEEDED TO REST. I often feel like I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want to waste the time. But sleep is not a waste of time. We will all be better moms if we just turn the brain off and shut our eyes. Go to bed moms.
God wants the best for you. Jesus said that He came to give us life and life abundant, but sometimes we get frustrated and we allow our circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus makes possible. Joyce Meyer said, “ I am not going to let the enemy steal what Jesus died to give me!” We got this, moms! Let’s acknowledge the need we have, be humble enough to ask for help, prioritize our time, and get some sleep! Let’s encourage each other and be real about challenges we face.
Those days will come. We can’t change our circumstances, but we can change how we respond to them! We got this!
Confession: We have never had professional pictures taken. It was not something that either of our families did growing up, so when I would get my friends family pictures in a Christmas card or something, I would always think “Either they are just really naturally that pretty or we need to get pictures taken!” Well, one of my friends just happens to be such a talented photographer. Her name is Chloe and she is launching into other areas of the business and asked if I would like to have a family photo shoot before we left…uhhh heck yeah I would!
She told us about a park or something with a lot of natural elements that she shoots at often. I told her I would trust her, but we’re not really “natury, park people”. She laughed and suggested downtown McKinney. It was so much fun!
I really was nervous that we were going to end up with portraits that looked like we went to JCPenney’s studio and posed with a boa or something (no hate JCP. I shop there. Just not so much with the decoupaged backdrops). She, however, was brilliant. She brought things for us to do or games to play to help us have natural smiles and laughs. The kids were entertained and we got some great shots. Here are some of our favorites.
I am now a fan of family photos!
Thanks for Chloe for the amazing shoot! If you are in the Dallas area, contact her! Heck, fly her out! She’s worth it.
I remember moving to Texas from Florida. I was so excited to start experiencing seasons and the colors of Dallas were beautiful. But nothing prepares you for the incredible fall weather in the northeast. We won’t discuss how quickly it turns to freezing temperatures where you end up looking like the Michelin Man had a baby with Olaf. For now, I am enjoying dressing my girls in FALL CLOTHES! Boots, scarves, and jackets! It is so fun.
However, even my little fashionistas will dirty a good outfit if they pass an all too tempting pile of leaves on their way home from school. I could either worry about having to do laundry or grab a camera… 🙂
a pink pea coat and a leather bomber are always ok!
# <3 NEW York
Guys, my babies are growing up. I cannot begin to tell you how hard that is. Of course, every mommy in the world knows the horror of this feeling. No one needs to try and explain to another mom the pain of seeing your babies developing into children/kids/middleschoolers/teenagers/ adults. Of course, there are perks to be sure. I feel like I’m going to look into all the faces of the moms on Jozlyn’s first day of school… yes, my daughter is going to school for the first time this year, and see an expression of equal parts heartbreak and elation; an inward struggle for a dominant emotion. I am thrilled to have some time to do adult things. I am excited to hopefully have conversations with “big people” who challenge my thinking and help me grow. But I am equally unnerved at the thought of my daughter being away from me for 8 hours a day. I mean, for the next 13 years of her life AT LEAST, someone else will have more time with her than I will. I will no longer be the one who has the best opportunity to develop her character, responses, intellect, and grace. That is a sobering thought.
When considering moving to NYC, of course, we THOUGHT about the day when Jozzy would go to school. We talked about the school systems and some options. We felt very strongly about putting our kids in public school. We want them to be a good influence in the community and thought it would be a great way to meet people outside the church. I still believe that. As much as I love Christian education, and believe me, I DO, I have definitely seen the effects of not allowing kids to develop a Christian worldview outside of the confines of the safe church. When we don’t expose our kids to things outside the church until we throw them out into the college world, we are begging for overwhelmed, blindsided and often times, ineffective Christians on college campuses…many of whom, leave the church once they’ve experienced this “new world”. This, of course, is not the case for everybody but is a large number. We didn’t want that for our babies.
However, when you’re in New York, that safety bubble is effectively burst! There is no “church world”. They are exposed to everything you can be exposed to simply by existing in this place, so we decided Christian school would be a great option. This is the only reason that I’m not having a nervous breakdown right now.
Jozlyn is so ready to be in school. She’s excited to go and I know she will thrive. I know every momma thinks their babies are brilliant…but mine really is…:). Maybe not “brilliant”, but she’s a very capable, smart little girl and I am excited what school will do for her. I’m excited for her to be able to be social and structured. I’m excited for her to experience new things. I’m excited to see who she will become. And I’m excited to get some one-on-one time with my little one.
The kids have coped by clinging to one another and I think the separation will help them gain some needed independence. I’m so glad they love each other, but right now, they tend to fall apart a bit when separated.
We are so excited about Jozzy’s school. I really want to tell you what school it is, but I’ve been on the internet too much and don’t want to say where they are going! ha. I’m that mom. But I will tell you it is an amazing place with fantastic leadership. They have shown love for our family and made us feel like our girls would be special to them, which I’m sure they do to each family, but I love them for it.
You guys are the best! Thank you for lifting us up. We love you.
It is so strange to spend a whole day without Jozzy, but I know she is absolutely loving her time of playing and learning with a bunch of kids! I always love hearing her talk about her day when I go pick her up, BUT I swear it feels like I am just meeting my youngest daughter. Kenny tends to come alive. She is goofy, and silly, and energetic and she loves to make believe. She loves to put on my heels and grab a purse and proclaim “Bye Mom! I go to work!” I’ll tell her bye and then she’ll return and say, “I’m back!”
Today, we went to Central Park, which we’ve done a lot but not just with her. We had a blast and she wanted to do a little photo shoot. Jozzy always loves taking pictures, but this time, Kenny was the center of attention and she loved it.
Last week, I wrote about taking Jozzy to the theater in an Anastasia costume. Since Halloween is coming, here is a quick DIY if you want to make your own princess dress for your little princess.
I scoured the internet for a toddler sized costume for the Russian princess and found NOTHING! I decided I was going to have to jimmy rig something. But when I did research I found that the Broadway costume is totally different than the finale film dress. I knew Jozlyn would request the film dress, but would be so ecstatic to see the dress she was wearing on stage. So I showed her pictures of Anya’s Broadway dress and she agreed that it would be better to go with her red dress…whew.
So, for any other Broadway lovers out there…. here are the steps to making this dress…
Here is the original Broadway dress…..
This is the dress I purchased for about $20…
The first thing I did is CUT THAT FLOWER OFF!
Get some gold trimming and red jewels from your
local fabric/craft store or online…
This ran me another $20
The dress ended up being a bit big on top (she’s tiny), so I just tried it on her and tightened the side seam and straps.
Lay out a pattern for your appliques, and decide what you like. Play with things to get the right scale. Luckily, this Russian-inspired gown called for opulence… the more the better!
I was not excited that the dress has rhinestones on it when I first got the dress, but it ended up adding a bit I think. I layered on one applique at the bust and a simple small one to lengthen the center to her waist.
I then went to town pinning all of my appliques in place..making tweaks as I went. Once I was happy with the placement, I thought I would glue them down… but, I decided to bite the bullet and hand sew them (you can just sew them down). I know some of you are thinking “Why didn’t she just use her machine!?” Well, I tried and broke 2 needs on the embedded sequence… ouch. I had the time, so I just took out my needle and thread and did it myself. It actually took a lot less time than I expected.
Once the appliques were secure, I could get to the fun part…. JEWELS! I bought way too many jewels, but they were pretty and I knew I wanted to make it obnoxiously gawdy! ha. I simply Gorilla Glued the gems in place and tried my best to edit my desires to bedazzle the entire gown. I think it turned out just right.
At this point, my plan was complete… but it never is with me.
One of my favorite aspects of the gown is its silhouette. It is very similar to an Audrey Hepburn gown… a classic 50’s line where there are two skirts: a slim fitting column skirt seen through the front slit of a voluminous top skirt. It is one of my favorite designs in all of fashion and I hated that it wasn’t a part of this mini copy.
I had to at least reference it, so I slit the top layer of the dress right down the middle and tacked it back to reveal the silk under skirt. In the original dress the bottom skirt is almost a baroque pattern. I was not going to spend any more money as I was already at my budget, so I took some leftover trim and cut out some pieces to form a pattern down the center of the underskirt I had revealed. It was not exact but at least it was a nod to the beauty of the Broadway design.
After adding a few more gems to the new pattern and the tiara, I stepped back and felt pretty good about what had been done. Jozzy was going to love it.
If you tackle this (or others), leave a picture in the comments! Good luck!
It is no secret that one of the best parts about living in New York, in my humble opinion, is the access to the most incredible theater in the world! I have always loved theater. My grandmother sat me down in front of the tv to watch musicals since I was born. My babysitter from that time said I had SOUND OF MUSIC memorized at 6… in its entirety… including choreo…:) That started a love affair for musicals that grew to a love of theater. I loved the music, the dance, and the clothes!! Vera Ellen’s dresses that swirled around her as she turned across the floor, Julie Andrews turning curtains into day clothes for a litter of children, Marilyn Monroes beautifully ornate gowns. Period pieces, contemporary works of art… I just love the clothes that litter the stages and screens of the theater. I’ve been obsessed my whole life.
One of my favorite pictures I own is one of Jozlyn before she turned 1. She had a bad ear infection and would scream everytime I laid her flat. The only thing that would help quiet her for a few minutes at a time was when I put on SINGIN IN THE RAIN on my laptop. She would crook her little neck to watch Gene Kelly dance gracefully across the screen. I knew I had my theater buddy! I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.
I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.
She was so excited! When Anastasia came out on stage in this dress, Jozlyn freaked out! I love making my baby girl happy!
Here are some of our favorite shots of the day.
She was wide awake when we were headed home… at nearly midnight! haha
Thanks for checkin in!
Summer was quickly coming to a close and Jozlyn would not stop asking for another day at the beach. The funny thing is that I grew up in a home that was no longer than 15 minutes from a beautiful Florida beach… and I think I made my way to the sand a total of 6 times in 10 years. My little girl, however, is completely enamored with the sight of the waves and the feeling of sand between her toes. So we made plans to go with our good friends just before school started.
I guess she had fun 😉
So blessed to have sweet friends that love on my kids and are a god send to me! Thanks for checking in!