Monday, February 28, 2011

It's The End.... of February

Well, I'll flat out just say it. I'm discouraged. I have NOT been kicking butt on my weekly goals lately. But, honestly, it hasn't been because I am lazy. I have been doing lots of stuff! Just... not the items on my goals. And did you notice? Where where the goals last week?! And where was my Friday post? I plum FORGOT. For real. So disappointed in myself... Anyways.

Let's review. Here are the goals I set for myself for this week.

Week of February 14, 2011

-Launder Things
-Go through the 2 boxes full of papers
that I pretend don't exist.
-Organize Jewelry
-Steam the master bedroom curtains
-Hang the master bedroom curtains

And the things I accomplished? 

Week of February 14, 2011

-Launder Things
-Go through the 2 boxes full of papers
that I pretend don't exist.
-Organize Jewelry
-Steam the master bedroom curtains
-Hang the master bedroom curtains

SUPER FAIL. Before I give my excuses reasons... I want to give a quick recap of what I DID accomplish the past two weeks - the things that weren't on this list.

Things I DID Do the Week of Feb. 14 and Feb 21
While I was Not Doing The Things Above
-I had an amazing date night for Valentines with my lover.
- I DID laundry. (Duh.)
-I managed to go grocery shopping and cook dinner... A LOT.
-I got sick.
-I went to the gym more often than usual. Except I started getting blisters so I need new shoes.
-I was really, really sore for two days. It hurt to do everything. It also felt amazing.
-I finished reading the Hunger Games. (More on this later.)
-Bryan and I worked on the house. (This too.)
-I managed to wake up early and get myself to work... EARLY.
-We finally bought a filing cabinet so we can get organized!

SEE? Do you see that I wasn't just farting around not accomplishing anything? Because that was not the case. I was LIVING. And while this blog is important to me and I want/need to write, I also need to go easier on myself when I fail. I shouldn't get all anxiety ridden to write that I failed. I'm human. I will fail. 

The only time that I should beat myself up is when I stop trying to accomplish anything. Because you can't have even a modicum of success if you don't try first. I'm proud of the stuff I accomplished. 

Now, back to the things that I (maybe, sorta) should've done the week of February 14 for a quick recap. 

I can now go through all those papers in the two boxes that I pretend don't exist because I have a filing cabinet... woot! I need to launder the curtains before I steam them. Freaking Cali manages to get her drool on everything! Why can't she just keep her tongue in her MOUTH?! She's lucky that she is so, so, so darn cute that she is worth putting up with drool. Plus, if I want a St. Bernard I should get used to it. I need to get a can of spray paint and then the jewelry sorting will commence aaaaand I already asked Bryan to help me with the master bedroom curtains this week and I just know he won't let me down. (Right babe?!) How is that for a quick recap?

This week, I'm going to go light on myself. 

Week of February 28, 2011

-Do the (never-freaking-ending) Laundry.
-Fix that thing you haven't blogged about yet. :)
-Hit the gym four times this week.
-Clean the master bathroom.

I think all of those things speak for themselves... so I'll skip the play-by-play so we can get to  the month end wrap up of my yearly goals. Obviously, the second to-do is vague but you'll see why within the next few days. (Here is the link to last months wrap-up.)

For those of you that have been reading for a while, you know that I have been trying to implement major life changes this year. They are the following:

1. Get fit & get active
2. Challenge my marriage
3. Walk with God
4. Get unpacked and organized

1. Get fit & get active
I have been increasingly getting better and better and getting my butt to the gym. I've recently been looking into another huge lifestyle change, and once a decision has been made, I'll be sure to blog about it. We'll see how it goes! 

2. Challenge my marriage
I recently went through and six week depression and I'm stick working my way out of it. Every day is better. Bryan and I are better than we ever have been, and I think it's only going to get better. We haven't started the Love Dare yet, but that is on the horizon! 

3. Walk with God
Along with regularly attending church, we also have started up a weekly bible study. On top of that, my prayer life has definitely increased, and my amazing mother-in-law gave us a March daily devotional booklet that starts, well, tomorrow! The one thing I really want to work on is getting into my bible more often during the week. I'd like to hit four days a week for at least a half our of reading and God time. 

4. Get unpacked and get organized
I have been working a lot on the way I view my house. I have also been working on putting more love and effort into things, and you'll see an example of that later this week! We have only a few boxes left. I'm sure most of that stuff will be sold or donated. If I haven't needed it this long, I probably don't need it now...Right? 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Uncomfortable Truths, Volume 1

One of the blogs that I follow, Katherine of Grass Stains has this amazing series of posts on her blog that are all about her uncomfortable truths. You can click here to read them, they are seriously hilarious.

Anyways, I figured since I'm not feeling so hot and I'm tired as all get out I would share a few of my uncomfortable truths instead of uploading pictures and work on the posts that I actually need to post.

:: I am getting more and more irritated by the fact that I am the only one in this house that changes the toilet paper rolls when they are out. Sadly, I will hold this in until the next time I look over and see that there is no toilet paper, I will save the tube and throw it at Bryan's head.... and then I'll feel better.

::  I read a lot of design blogs and a lot of people comment, "oh you are so inspirational!" but for me? They discourage me more often than not. Because my German shepherd doesn't understand that a decorative tray on an ottoman is not target practice for her tail.

:: My cat also does not understand that when he sleeps on top of my cushions on my BRAND NEW COUCHES he leaves a layer of fur when he gets up.

:: My entryway depresses me every time I walk through it.

:: The other day, I was getting ready and I went to put some slip-on shoes on my feet. What I was greeted with was huge pile of drool.

:: My husband does the dishes after I cook, and almost every single time he asks complains that he is missing Tupperware and he just knows it's gotta be somewhere.... But he never looks for it.

:: I have such a terrible memory that I lose things all the time. The other night we went somewhere and when we got home, I made a mental note that I stuck my keys in my jacket pocket so I wouldn't forget them in the morning. The next morning, I check my jacket pocket and there are no keys. At this point I'm going nuts because I hate being late and when I finally thought to check my purse, there they were... Apparently, I was so worried I would forget about having them in my jacket pocket that I put them in my purse. But then I completely forgot what I had done. Bright side of all this? It seems that the mental pictures are, in fact, effective.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Social Media

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it, but a few weeks ago my friends and I were talking about Facebook and about what happens when we see our Facebook 'friends' in real life.

Before I get into that, I want to mention that all of the people I have on my Facebook I either know in real life or are the writers of blogs that I follow. There is literally no one on my Facebook (besides the blogs/bloggers) that I have not met in person and had some sort of dealing with. It's true. I don't like just adding anyone because some of the things I post I wouldn't post if it was able to be viewed every where. (Like where I am or who I am with or gripes about politics or whatever.) It's my zone and just like Embrace the Crazy, I keep it real. I want to feel comfortable to post what I want without having to worry very much about it.

That said, my friends and I were discussing our friend list clean ups and the times that we have seen our FB friends in real life and what happened. We have each had experiences where someone added us on Facebook, and when we saw them in real life, they either ignored our smiles and/or passing hellos, or they gave us a dirty look or something.

First of all, I was happy that I wasn't alone in having this experience. I've mentioned before how awkward I am with putting myself out there and making friends... When I see someone in Target that I am not particularly close to (but communicate with on Facebook or even Twitter) and I manage to smile and say hi without tripping over my own feet and falling and chipping a tooth or honestly, just choking on fear, it's sort of a big deal. (At least for me it is. I'm one of those shy-sters [get it? Haha!] that hide behind their computer. I'm less awkward that way...) To know that my friends have gone through the same things makes me feel better.

It also astounds me.

The reason that it astounds me is because if a person adds me on Facebook, as sad as it is, they are asking permission to have access to my memories and personal information. It's knowing where I am or where I have been, how I feel about things, good and bad (eek!) pictures of me, what my religion is and where I stand on politics... A friend request, to me, is someone asking me if I would be okay with letting them in. Not just that, but they often have access to my friends because of tagged photos and status streams... They can even see a 'Friendship' between me and one of my friends.

I don't take that lightly. On every single social media outlet that I am a member of, I chose what I want to share and with whom. I talk about some things on Facebook that I don't mention here and I post blogs on here that I don't mention on my Facebook. It is at my discretion. Obviously, my blog is public, while my Facebook account is private. There is a reason for that. Facebook is real time and Embrace the Crazy is a journal for myself. I typically don't write where I've been until after the fact. It's safe. Plus, not many people read this blog outside of my bubble. Which is fine. This blog is not for anyone else. It's just for me. But the things I post on here I post because I don't mind sharing them with whomever decides to stumble upon this ol' blog.

I was explaining to Bryan that while I think using the word snubbed has a connotation to it that doesn't quite articulate my feelings, I suppose its close. I don't expect to be best friends with everyone on my Facebook, and I certainly don't think I have to strike up a conversation with them in public just because we are friends on Facebook. I do feel that if you make eye contact it would not be hard to smile to acknowledge them. Or so say a quick hello before going about your business. Really, I think my expectations are low. A hello has never hurt anyone.

After the few times that I had experienced this, I really started to wonder. If these people want to completely ignore my existence in public, what are their motives to being 'friends' on Facebook? My thoughts barreled down to genuine human curiosity and it's more negative counterpart - nosiness. There is a difference between being intrigued by someone and their life (some reality television/interviews) and general nosiness (like paparazzi fueled websites/magazines). Once I made the distinction, I started thinking about the few people that were anything but friendly in person and I resolved that, based on what I knew of them, they were people that were nosy. So, you know what I did? I deleted them.

At the risk of sounding as though my mindset was "You weren't nice to me in public so I defriended you! Take that!" I'll be honest. I don't want people that are nosy on my Facebook. Which is kind of funny when you think about it. I want people that are genuinely interested in knowing where I've gone in life and sharing funny quips with each other, or giving reviews of items or books or movies. I happen to think that other people are fascinating and I love knowing why people choose certain things or really, just their story in general. But I don't use the information they post against them. I don't ignore them in public or follow them around on Facebook saying rude and mean spirited things. (My husband has a 'friend' that does this on occasion. It's really sad.) And I'm not catty with the information they post. I feel like nosy people only want information to do bad things like gossip and I'm not down with that. So I deleted them and I don't feel bad about it at all.

Moving along, in yesterday's post, I mentioned that I went to dinner with my Mom and Larry on Saturday. While there, I noticed that an ex-boyfriend from my junior year or high school and his friend were there. I debated about interrupting their dinner to say hi. I also didn't want to seem like I just ignored them. I have my ex on my Facebook and we post on each others stuff sometimes - no big deal. But I immediately thought of the conversation I had with my friends.

So, I took all of my 40-pounds-heavier-than-I-was-in-high-school self and walked by their table and said hi, made some small chit-chat and left after a minute or two. It was easy going and not all that awkward.

Then I get to my Mom's and look in a mirror and realize that I forgot that I let my hair air-dry because it was raining and that I chose not to do my make up. I was also wearing slippers and a huge San Francisco sweatshirt. Sigh.

I just HAD to say hello while looking like a homeless person. Ugh.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Swear

And I don't mean the bad word kind of swear, I mean the swear as in promise, that I am not dead. 

I kind of dropped off the face of the earth blog-o-sphere last week, huh? Honestly, I was super busy on Friday so I wasn't able to get a post up. Then it was the weekend and then it was a holiday and as usual, I don't post on those days. Here I am again though, it's Tuesday, and it's a four day week! 

Can I get a collective woohoo?

I had a fabulous weekend. Seriously. Let's rewind to Friday so I can spill all of my super amazing happenings in order. 

So, for the past few weeks I have been planning a surprise party for my hub's 25th birthday! He showed up to his standing Friday night gig at Harris Ranch and was greeted by thirty of our family and friends, a huge cake and best of all, a night OFF! We got to eat and drink and be merry. It was a hoot. Yes. I just said hoot. I know that proves that I am an 80 year old woman. I embrace it. 

Saturday, Bryan and I managed to straighten up the house and get some hang out time in before he had to take off for his gig... and I had no plans. Much to Denise's dismay, I was not in the mood to accompany her to a local wine bar to see the band Poor Man's Poison. There were two reasons why I didn't want to go. 

1. I was not in the mood to be in a teeny, tiny wine bar with a bazillion other people to pay $9 for a glass of wine when a bottle would cost me $11 (tax included) and probably not have a place to sit. 

2. I was still a bit butt-hurt because I had contacted Poor Man's Poison about coming out to Harris Ranch to play for Bryan's birthday and the message I received back was kind of wish-washy and gave no real reason to say 'no' and the reply didn't actually say no. They just said that they would 'talk to the guys and get back to you' and they never got back to me. Which is poor form, friends. It's fine if, as a band, you don't do birthday parties or any private gigs, I get that. But you should be able to stand behind that and just give a "would love to help you out but it's not gonna happen" for sure message. Not a 'we scare easy when it comes to private parties and weddings...but I'll ask the guys and get back to you' message. 

But it's all good. I was bummed that I couldn't make it happen cause I knew that it would just blow Bryan's brain and I tend to go all baby-of-the-family when something I get excited about doesn't pan out. I still love them. Their first CD makes life at work happier. Love it. Bryan has yet to hand over their second CD for me to burn onto my computer at work. Hoarder. 

All that to say I was not in the mood to go. It happens. Instead, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my Mom and Larry. We went to dinner and we watched Conviction which is based on a true story and we loved it! It was a really good time... very low key. 

On Sunday, Bryan and I decided to sleep in and take the day off from church. I really wanted to take a drive to the mountains or to the coast but when I looked at my Facebook, I saw a ton of status updates from friends saying they were at the coast. Uhh...I want to go to the coast to get away from Hanford, not follow it to a tiny coastal town. Bryan wasn't feeling it either so we grabbed breakfast with Kari, Adam and little Owen. Who slept the entire time. Even when the waiter kicked his carriage twice. I could have socked that dude. 

The rest of Sunday we kind of just hung out at home before we went to rent two red box movies, Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon. We ended up playing a few games online and only had time for one movie, so we watched Toy Story 3. Ahhh. I loved it. Even the scary clown called Chuckles. I made Bryan hold my hand the entire time he was on the screen though. I hate clowns. HATE THEM.

I got all choked up at the end but I made sure to play it off. I know the teasing from Bryan would be endless! I'm such a girl. 

On Monday, we woke up and got ready. I was starting to get really hungry and then I started getting a headache. We ate and my headache didn't go away. I took some medicine and laid down on the couch and we watched How To Train Your Dragon. I loved it! And by the end? I was feeling a whole lot better. So good, that we went for quick bike ride and then we played another game on the computer. I needed to grocery shop for this week, so we ran to Save Mart, ate some dinner, and went to the gym. 

It was a pretty standard weekend but I loved it. Bryan and I didn't start bickering from all the time we spent with each other... well, I did get a little hungry-bearish yesterday. I get a little mean when I am hungry. Food = Happiness and no migraines! 

I feel well rested and I had such a good time hanging out with Bryan.

Tonight I'm making porcupine meatballs and we are going back to the gym. I want my face back! Seriously. home needs to lose weight and fast! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's About Time

Color me a slacker.

Or is it count me a slacker?

What the heck is the saying I'm going for...? My mind totally blanked.

I'm gonna start over.

I'm a slacker.

Sort of.

I took last week off of my weekly goals so that I could focus on my All Things Love week. Now I have to catch up... and see how I fared. Let's say that I honestly don't remember what my goals were. Yes, I know you are surprised. You thought that the blueberries I have not been eating have miraculously fixed my memory problems and I can recall things at the drop of a hat! Oh, how wrong you are.

Let's start this madness.

Week of February 8, 2011



Week of January 31, 2011

-Continue Laundering
-Unpack another 5 boxes
-Steam the master bedroom curtains
-Hang the master bedroom curtains
-Organize Jewelry

I just copied and pasted those from the sidebar on my blog. Let's see how I did going back to the week of January 31, 2011. 

Week of January 31, 2011

-Continue Laundering
-Unpack another 5 boxes
-Steam the master bedroom curtains
-Hang the master bedroom curtains
-Organize Jewelry

LAME. Two out of five. Productive, I am. Obviously, I continued laundering the endless amounts of clothes that Bryan and I have. But also? I have realized that the reason that it never ends is because we keep wearing things! We should just go naked. Except that would be scary and I'm pretty sure that since I work at a school, it would be illegal. 

I do all this laundry and then I look and there is more laundry! Right now I have about 4 loads at home separated. It is a revolving chore. What is GOOD is that by having in on my list I have been making myself get it done. And also? The fact that I can at LEAST cross this one off every week is good. Cause my track record sucks, for real. 

I have however, blown myself away by the amounts of effort I have been putting into cleaning out Bryan's office/our storage for the moment. I'm rocking those boxes socks off. If they wore socks. What I am trying to convey is that if boxes had feet and were so inclined to wear socks? They would be knocked off. I'm killing it in there. There are about four or five boxes that are all Bryan's crap. Which can stay in there since it's his office and I'm not going through his crap. Who knows what seedy weird musician things are in those boxes. Eek! 

Then there is our BBQ that Bryan has yet to put together. Hmph. No. Comment.

There there are a few more boxes for me to go through and then there are the tubs that need to go up in the attic. Again? Bryan. and No comment. 

Week of Jan 31? FAIL.

Let's move on to the week of February 8. 

Week of February 8, 2011



'Nuff said. 

This week, we get back to our regularly scheduled programing. Without further ado! Let me make up some things I need to do! 

Week of February 14, 2011

-Launder Things
-Go through the 2 boxes full of papers 
that I pretend don't exist.
-Organize Jewelry
-Steam the master bedroom curtains
-Hang the master bedroom curtains

EW! Why did I give myself so much stuff? Because I figure, why not? It's a goal. Goals should be hard. 

I'm not going to go over the laundering of the money clothes. Ya'll know about that. 

-Go through the 2 boxes full of papers that I pretend don't exist
It's true. I have two boxes full of papers that I pretend don't exist. I see them and immediately block them out. It's going to massively suck to go through them. But I need to. I went and bought some file folders so I need to go to town and file. And shred everything else. It's time. 

-Organize Jewelry
This includes un-knotting it. Hate that part. Gonna suck so bad. But then I'll be able to wear it! I'm gonna get it done. 

-Steam the master bedroom curtains
They are still wrinkly. I had misplaced the steamer and I found it this weekend. I now have no excuse. Dang it.

-Hang the master bedroom curtains
What are the chances that I can get Bryan to help me? Good, I say. Considering he was supposed to do this back in September. 

There is my quick run down of the chores I need to get done this week. Let's hope I knock it out of the park!

Oh, and just to make things extra interesting. I'm going to challenge myself to go the the gym every single day this week!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A New Meaning

February 12 is a day that my sisters and I greet with bittersweet memories.

February 12 is the day that we connect with each other in a deep and personal way that only we understand.

February 12 is a day that our history really and truly began.

February 12 is a day usually filled with text messages about how much we love each other and that we are so happy to have each other.

February 12 was the day that our Mom and Dad walked down the isle and pledged their love for each other.

February 12, 2011 was the day Alison, Kari and I had a new reason to connect with one another.

February 12, 2011, Owen Russell was born into this world.

February 12 is now the day that both Alison and I can be called Tia.

I have always woken up on February 12 with mixed feelings. I am so thankful that I have my sisters, and the twelfth of February is a reminder to celebrate that. On the other hand, divorce is hard, especially for the kids. We'll always remember this day for our parents... In honor of what our parents had together.

On February 12 at around 6:45 in the morning, I was woken with the news that my sister's water had broke. At 9:22 in the morning, Owen Russell was brought into the world.

Here are some pictures... please excuse the goofy face my husband band in his second picture. I don't know what was up with that!


Lil Owen Russell


Bryan Meets Owen

Goofy Smile


That face!

Congratulations, Adam and Kari. You guys made a stinkin' cute baby! :)

Happy Birthday, Bryan...

Happy 25th Birthday, Bryan. 

I am so happy that you were born and that God destined you for me.
I am awed by the man you have become.
I am inspired by the man I see you growing toward. 

You are my rock, my foundation, my lighthouse.

You are the sexiest man I have ever known.

I'm blessed that I get to celebrate every birthday and every day with you. 

I love you.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love and Other Drugs...Wait... No, no, that can't be right.

As I was thinking about what my posts should be like this week, I realized that I actually have a lot to say! Now I just have to decide whether I should pack it all in a few posts or spread it out. Hmm, decisions, decisions.

Since we had a holiday yesterday, I'll go ahead and start there. My Valentines day was great! The education community had the day off because of President's Day, so I was stoked to be able to sleep in. If you count waking up at 9:30 sleeping in. :)

Bryan and I had stayed up past midnight on Monday morning, so I was the first to say happy Valentines day. When I woke up, I posted this on his wall. 

See the time stamp? It was literally two minutes after I opened my eyes. Gotta love that Facebook addiction! 

Then, a while later, Bryan melted my heart with this...

Love that man! :)

I went along with my day as planned. I didn't have any plans so I just kind of hung around the house. Actually, I started watching this show that is on the SyFy channel. It's called Being Human. It's about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost and get this - they are all friends! It's pretty interesting. Not surprisingly, I got caught up in another SyFy show - Face Off. This one is a reality competition show about these make-up artists. I was blow away by the things these people could do! I was staring at the TV in awe when my Mom called and asked me to run an errand with her. 

More on that later this week. 

I got home just in time to meet the UPS guy so that he could give me our new.... oops. More on that later, too. :)

I was home for a few hours watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith and then Click when Bryan got home. And that glorious man walked in with these babies. 

There is one red rose... four white ones... and three pink roses. This is a coded message from my man. :) Of course, he apologized that the bouquet lacked yellow roses. He was bummed when they told him they were all out since they are my favorite flower. I said who CARES? Any flower would do. 

Once we quickly got ready, we headed out to dinner. We went to a local Mexican food place that I love. Bryan kept asking me if that is what I really wanted since its kind of like a Panera Bread vibed restaurant that serves Mexican grub. I assured him that I was fine with a more casual dining experience and after eating stuffing our faces, we went and picked up some items from Target for our puppies. 

After what seemed like an eternity (we disagree on almost everything concerning our German Shepherd and Maltese/Poodle pups) we managed to get out of there after spending $80 on pet supplies... and another small item for me. 

We headed out to Lemoore after shopping at Target to see Just Go With It. 

I loved it! It was a pretty cheesy premise, but I loved it. Especially after seeing Click. I used to hate that movie, but it resonates with me more now... maybe because I'm married? Who knows. 

That was my Valentines day! It was wonderful and low-key and perfect.

Just what I needed! 


I hope your Valentine's day was as full of love as mine was.

My husband rocks my world. <3

Friday, February 11, 2011

All Things Love: Wrap Up

*This is the fifth installment of All Things Love week. If you'd like to start at the beginning and work your way through, you can read about how we have to change our thought process on love, here. Day two of ATL week is all about the breakdowns of romance. If you are looking for romantic ideas for Valentines Day, click here. Read part four to see what effective love is all about.

We are at the end of ATL week! I really enjoyed doing this. If you know anything about me, you know I love love.  I am a huge proponent of loving and being loved and even I get in my own way when it comes to loving. For everything I've done right I have done four things wrong. But, its the thought that counts. Its the time and effort that is poured into whatever task that speaks volumes. Show the person you love that you love them, today. Don't wait for a Hallmark holiday. Give it because you feel it. 

Now, I absolutely cannot spend and entire week on love and not talk about where love comes from. The creator of love is the biggest lover Himself. His love defines all love. He IS love. 

Psalm 5:11
Let all who run to you for protection always sing joyful songs. Provide shelter for those who truly love you and let them rejoice.

And of course, maybe the most well known verses on love...

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever. 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever, but prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will all disappear. 

Now we know only a little, and even the gift of prophecy reveals little! But when the end comes, these special gifts will all disappear. It's like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.

There are three things that will endure--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.

Thanks for sticking with me during All Things Love week!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All Things Love: Effective Love

Psst. Sorry, I didn't realize that this wasn't scheduled to post in the morning. I'm back-dating it so everything will be in order. Thanks!

*This is the fourth installment of All Things Love week. If you'd like to start at the beginning and work your wait through, you can read about how we have to change our thought process on love, here. Day two of ATL week is all about the breakdowns of romance. If you are looking for romantic ideas for Valentines Day, click here.

In October of 2009, I married my high school sweetheart. Whenever any couples decide to get married, people give advice and tell them what books that should read to help them out and how to effectively love each other. One of the books that was recommended to us was "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. I had heard about this book and I was definitely intrigued by it. So, I bought it and we started reading it together and then I just kind of read it on my own and I never finished it. (The book is about all the different languages that are out there and how to tell which one you are and which one your partner is. It's a great tool. I haven't even read it all and I recommend it. I'll add it to my reading pile.)

The reason being was that one, I was planning a full blown wedding in five weeks and two, I was in the love stage where I felt like we would be living happily ever after and would know how to love each other. How wrong I was.

Have you ever heard that marriage is hard? Because it is. It's really hard to get a routine down. To figure everything out. Bryan and I are in our second year of marriage and while most people say the first year of marriage is the honeymoon phase, is euphoric and the best - ours was decidedly not. Our first year of marriage sucked. Whenever I say that Bry always gets mad because it sounds misleading.

The first year of our marriage was one of the most busy and blessed years of our lives, but that doesn't change the fact that all of those blessings put a ton of weight and responsibility and burden on our new and fragile marriage. In the first year of marriage, Bryan's truck broke down so we had one vehicle. Some crazy lady T-boned me and suddenly we had no vehicle. Half our family was living at a different house due to a no-pet policy at our rental and for the first eight months all of Bryan's stuff was at the same house our pets were at. We tried to find a house to rent but all of them were so expensive and so unattractive that we started to look into buying a house. We bought a house. More specifically, we bought a huge project house and supervised months and months of construction... While living at Bryan's Dad's house. Bryan was blessed to get a every weekend gig at Harris Ranch and then later it was doubled to two nights a weekend, so we never saw each other. I had health problems with some medication and ballooned to a weight that I can't seem to shake off. We moved into our house only to find that the contractors had done a shoddy job on the painting and that we didn't have the time, effort, or desire to unpack all of the boxes that had been in storage. We got screwed over by a dishonest guy who was supposed to paint our house and lay our wood flooring.

Some of what happened was really good and some was awful. Regardless of if it was good or bad, we were a brand new married couple and we were having a hard time processing everything that was being thrown at us. On top of that, we were trying to find a balance of being together and not arguing over whatever we were going through at that moment.

Living with someone and trying to maintain some type of intimate relationship while everything around you is complete chaos is hard. We bickered and knit-picked at each other a lot during these hard times. We were juggling so many things at once that we hardly had time to 'date' each other in our marriage. We were too busy, too tired, too stressed. During those times, I did find myself wondering if Bryan and I were going to be okay, if we were going to make it. I wondered what we would have left when everything slowed down.

After the initial shock of actually being in a house that we owned wore off, things started to slow down. We had a few months that we blew a lot of time and didn't really accomplish anything. Now, we're getting involved in church and in Bible studies and Bryan is still booking gigs right and left. We're trying to go to the gym every weekday night. But the things that occupy our time are easier to deal with because they are things we want to do. Not things that we have to do.

So, our life together has a calmer aura to it this year than it did last year and now we are left with the fall out from last year. Unfortunately, we didn't make it a priority to focus on the intimate details of our relationship so now we are having to sort through a lot of junk to get back to where we were.

Love is a feeling. Beyond that it is a word, an action, a promise. Love is only effective if you use the tools that you have to convey your point. Love is never effective if you always let fear or resentment stand in the way. If you are able to learn from other peoples mistakes, learn from ours. It will be a long road to gain back the intimacy that was lost while we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Take the information you've learned (hopefully most of it was helpful!) and apply it to your relationship right now. Start being deliberate and effective in your love life. You'll be amazed at what you get in return.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All Things Love: Actions Speak Louder

While acknowledging your love for someone verbally is a definite must, the old adage 'Actions speak louder than words' applies as well. You can say something until your blue in the face but until you take the steps to affirm your words with actions, they can fall flat.

Which brings us to the funnest part of All Things Love week! The romantic gestures. Just a forewarning that although I've spoken a lot about that fact that love doesn't just have to be about a romantic involvement with someone, these actions are going to be more geared to the mushy kind of love because of Valentines Day. 

Guys, some women say that they don't like flowers because they always end up dying. For that I say, don't be dumb. Flowers are beautiful. Who doesn't want flowers? The only time that it is stupid to purchase flowers for someone is if you spend a un-Godly amount of money on flowers just for them to die. You don't need to spend a ton of cash on a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Another way to get around this is to purchase flower seeds or bulbs and plant them together. Watch them grow over time. Or pick some! It's a cute way to get around the money issue.

John of Young House Love seriously wow-ed me when Sherry posted that for Christmas, he was gifting her a bouquet of flowers every month for the next year. Keep in mind, that he didn't mean a huge $100 bouquet from a flower shop every single month. He meant a cute reasonably price bouquet from a grocery store or something to that extent. I absolutely adore this idea. I know that there at our local grocery stores, you can get a bouquet for about $5 to $10. So, in a 12 month period, you would spend $60 to $120 on a gift. Not only will she feel special every single month, but you also get the benefit of having fresh flowers in your house (if you live together.) Having fresh flowers/plants in your house has been proven to improve air quality and it boosts your happiness. Yes, that's what the study was on. Boosted happiness. Get over it. :)

That just reminded me. When was the last time I watered my plants? Uh-oh. 

Date Night
In our house, our go-to date night is dinner and a movie. Which is fine, since we love movies... and food. But sometimes that can get monotonous. Sometimes I wish Bryan would put a bit more effort into date night. Here are a few ideas to spice things up. 
  • Take your lady to dinner and a play. It's more captivating, more romantic and you support local theater efforts. Plus, it adds a little bit of cultural flair to your life. 
  • Take your woman dancing. When is the next rodeo? Or is there a local bar/club in town that has dancing nights? Is there a concert playing around town anywhere soon? Dig up some information, tell your lover to get cute and the entire time you guys are dancing, never take your eyes off her. Give her the full attention she deserves. 
  • Speaking of dancing, are the any local recitals coming up? Does she have a cousin, niece or nephew in dance? Find out when the dates are and make it a point to take her there. Is there a comedy club near by? Everyone loves funny. And even if the comedian sucks, it'll give you lots to make fun of, in a nice way of course.
  • If you want something more chill and low maintenance, grab a coffee and drive around. Look at houses, go out into the country and turn up her favorite songs. Take the time to learn some of the lyrics so you can sing them with her. Belt it out and have some fun. Stop somewhere in the country and dance with her under the stars. 
  • Have access to a projector? Grab one of her favorite movies and go set up a movie area on the side of a house or building downtown. (Make sure to get permission, if necessary.) Invite her friends and family or just take her favorite snacks and take a load off. Picnic sandwiches for dinner for a low budget meal. 
Remember, some of these plans can be easily switched out to be guy friendly. Girls, is there a truck show coming around? Take your man to it. Or get him two tickets so that he can pick a friend to go with. Are there any local sports teams that you can get tickets too? Grab a few beers and have him teach you the game (if you don't already understand the rules.) He'll love that you are interested and he'll definitely answer any questions you have. 

Make sure you tailor your plans to your significant other. If he hates water polo, don't take him to a match. If he hates the local basketball team, try to save up to attend a game of the team he prefers. If your girl doesn't like to dance because she's shy, don't take her to one. Take her to a coffee shop or a library or Target. It's important that you pay attention to the things she likes so that you can plan accordingly.

Small Acts
There are always small things that people have to do that they hate. Whether is a chore or an errand, everyone hates to do something. If you are wanting to do a small thing that is technically a big deal to them, here are a few ideas.
  • Does your man always have to get the oil changed in the vehicles? One Saturday, wake up early, take the car or cars to a local shop and get the oil changed for him. Let him sleep in or enjoy his morning while you do this task for him!
  • If you have a day off from work, surprise your man/woman with lunch. Food is always a good way to go. ;)
  • Leave a note on her windshield with a flower secured by her wiper. Girls love love notes. They also like surprised. This is a win-win. Girls, men like notes too. Sneak out while they are taking a shower and place a note on their dashboard where they will see it in the morning. Write something sweet (or naughty if that floats your boat.) 
  • Does your other half always get the mail? Mail him or her a letter so that it'll be there when they get it. Stamped and processed by the postal system. It'll show forethought and that you acknowledge the fact that they do this task every day. 
  • Bills. Someone has to pay them. If your lover does this tedious and stressful task, make it easier on them. Set everything up that they need. Organize all the bills and file everything away when they are done. Brew them a cup of tea or coffee or grab them a beer and some chips. While they are doing the bills, don't sit there and watch TV. Do something productive like cleaning the kitchen or a bathroom. Make them feel like they aren't the only one contributing.
Grand Plans
I used to commute to work every day. Anyone who is anyone knows that sometimes, this can get tedious. Even when you usually like the drive to clear your mind, sometimes you just don't want to do it. If your man/woman is a creature of habit, I always thought that it would be really awesome to do any of the following:
  • Have your friend drop you off half way through the commute at a stop-light or sign (make sure your friend waits there in case this ends up being the day that she has to work late or run an errand after work.) with a sign or some way to get his/her attention. Move her to the passenger seat so that you can drive her the rest of the way home. They'll be stunned that you organized such a simple task for her. 
  • Better yet, if they work far enough away that it's considered a commute but close enough that one of your friends could drop you off, let him/her find you leaning against their car with a treat (favorite soda, coffee or smoothie) and offer to drive them home. 
  • Guys, grab a blindfold and take her to the place you met her. Get mushy for a second and tell her what you first thought of her and what you think about her now. (Once, Bryan did this. He took me to the house where we met and we danced in the street. It was ridiculously cute.)
  • Take him/her to get a massage... or better yet, a couples massage! Its a great way to relax together. After, if the place is downtown, drink your water while walking around and window shop. Make sure to hold hands. 
  • Surprise her with a day trip to the coast. Make sure to go to a yummy seafood restaurant and go thrift store or yard sale shopping with her and don't complain when she wants to buy some crazy item, like new dining room chairs. Expect that it'll happen. Then, when you get home, help her paint them or stain them and go along with her crazy idea. You might be surprised when it works. :)
  • Ladies, take your husband to the coast and rent a quad for him. While you tan on the beach, he can go race around and do boy things. Even better? Rent two and make him teach you how to ride it. Then, spend the day riding around and exploring together.
Some of these things are costly... and some of them are free. But all of them will give you a return that is priceless. Keeping the romance and intimacy in a relationship alive is the most important thing you will ever do. If you don't have anything to bond you together, you'll just be two people passing each other in the hallway or getting ready side by side in the morning to live your separate lives. 


Love is worth putting yourself out there. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All Things Love: The Romance Bubble

I'm going to be candid. I am not in the mood to blog about love today. Honestly. That man that I love really just burnt my bacon last night and as much as I want to tell you to grab a frying pan and hit your man over the head with it, I shan't. Because violence ain't cool, yo. That is the opposite of what I am going for during this here All Things Love week.

I suppose that the above is another type of love. It's doing things you don't want to do for the person you love. It's showing grace and love throughout the hard times. It's keeping on when life gets hard and you are in a valley so vast that you can't see a hill in sight.

So, this post will be about showing love in spite of circumstance. Even if you feel disconnected from a loved one, even if your husband hasn't paid any real attention to you or even if your wife hasn't flirted with you lately, you should not use this as an excuse to bottle up your love. Quit being stingy. What ends up happening is that this widens the gap between you when a simple act of love could bring you two closer together. You just have to be the one to take the leap.

That can be scary. Loving someone and feeling disconnected from them but not wanting to be so vulnerable that you put your heart out there IS scary. I can tell you that feeling this way is completely reasonable but highly unproductive. What do you have to lose? If they are already with you, then there is a reason for it. Remind them of it. If they aren't with you, then you don't have them to begin with. Trying will only help the situation, I say.

Instead of going on and on to convince you do to something, I'm going to consider you convinced! Congrats! You made the right choice. Now you are wondering what to do to reconnect. Aren't you? Tomorrow, we'll get in to examples of things you can do. Today, we need to gain a bit more knowledge before to understand where we're at in our relationships. Where we are at will help determine where we need to go.