Kindness

Do you find yourself speaking less kind toward your spouse than you would when you had first met each other?  I do.  In Becky Thompson’s book Love Unending she targets this as the second task to improve.  Love and marriage is her knowledge territory therefore I’m all about taking her expertise and practicing it in my life.

Being aware of, and improving, your own flaws is the best way to enhance any situation.  In my journey of 2017 I’ve been refining all of my relationships.  Some people had to go because they were nothing but negative, others had to be censored a little to help avoid the toxicity, and other relationships simply need more positive attention.

Luckily my husband and I don’t have a tough relationship but I’d rather put preventative work into it than have to re-mediate a situation.

I’ve witnessed people throwing their significant other’s belongings out the front door while demeaning and absolutely tearing them down; if they had worked on their relationship before things had gone sour it would be easier sailing.

I’ve also seen couples who never argue, ever.  These couples are aware of the best way to approach an issue and they use those techniques throughout their relationship.  (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a good book to help couples with this area.)

We aspire to be like the latter.  Since reading this second chapter in Becky Thompson’s book we have noticed that outside stressors cause us to become snippy with each other.  These stressors can be in the form of the toxic relationships mentioned previously or common stress-causing situations in day to day life.

We have seen this task improve drastically because I don’t find myself being treated poorly by others and then mirroring said behavior onto my husband.  I have more patience.  I’m behaving how I naturally would (and did when we first met), without censoring myself and becoming strained by not being comfortable.  I hope you can also notice any shortcomings you can work on to better the environment you live in. ❤

Purchase Becky Thompson’s book here and begin improving your marriage now!  Watch out for more posts as we continue our journey through her recommendations.

9781601428103

To read the previous task click here

Improving marriage

In most aspects of life my family lives by the motto “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” however within our relationships at home and surrounding our home, we don’t want things to break, ever.

With the extra energy I’ve gained since removing toxic relationships I’ve been able to focus on improving the positive relationships in my life.  In order to do this I first had to recognize where I was lacking as a spouse, mother, or friend.  I cannot try to improve these relationships by dictating what others should improve, as that would have the opposite outcome, I must focus on and refine myself.

I purchased a book called Love Unending by Becky Thompson and began reading it this morning.

In her story, Becky describes her father as her inspiration.  He is patient and so obviously loving.  She seeks his relationship advice, which is to love your spouse as though it’s your first day of marriage.  She then goes on to say that her ideal relationship point to aspire toward was actually not then, but prior to her and her husband’s marriage, which I agree for ours.

When we got married we had already been living together, our roommate was a drunk who was sleeping with one of my sisters, my husband was working about 80 hours a week (many of them overnight shifts), and I was working part time and a student full time.  Talk about never again.  It was stressful.

Prior to our engagement we were both college students, living on campus, with a lot of free time and a healthy amount of responsibility.  It was perfect, the only thing that was better then than now was that we had predictable schedules.  Now, he never knows when he’ll be home from work, whether it be 3:30 or 10:00; he’s gone for weeks on end, and almost all of our attention is focused on the girls.

The first task in Becky’s book is to greet your spouse how you would greet them in the prime of your relationship.  I was happy to see Will simply for him 5 years ago.  I’ll have to admit that today I’m happy to see him more for his ability to help me than for his own presence.

That will change.  The next time I greet him I will greet him as I did for during the firey part of our relationship.

I am immersed in this task, and we will walk in love. ❤

9781601428103

To read to the second task  click here

5k training

I have this big desire to be able to workout without inconveniencing my family.  I love cycling but that isn’t practical when I have to leave my dogs at home and find somebody to watch my girls.  If I’m outside working out why do my dogs need to be crated and bored?  That caused me to want to run; although I have always seriously disliked running.  I purchased a single jogger after Elizabeth was born and ran for a bit until I finally received a diagnosis of diastasis recti for my super fun ab issues.  At that point I stopped running and began physical therapy (while being pregnant with Alodia) and all was well.  That stroller became our beach junker and is still used when I only run with one of the girls.

I recently purchased a double jogger, my absolute favorite stroller: the Baby Jogger Summit x3 double.  Seriously I haven’t used any of my other 4 strollers since purchasing this one. #strollerhoarder

I am following the zen labs fitness app C25K which is a good coach and challenges me just enough to keep my motivation up.  This stroller practically pulls me along, unless the coastal winds are blowing against me which is always a great time.

My husband and I have signed up for a stroller-friendly 5k hosted by and benefiting the Semper Fi Fund.  We will be running it with his unit’s team and I plan to run it from start to finish.  Most likely he’ll be pushing the stroller so our times can be better, but I haven’t made a final decision about that yet.

Back to my favorite stroller ever – since finding this gem we have already committed to giving our Baby Jogger City Mini GT Double to a friend who is having a second child.  I’m not sure I can rid myself of our other strollers: our city select with second seat, single jogger, and umbrella stroller.  Feel free to give me words of encouragement that I can minimize my strollers down, and wish me luck while training for my 5k next month! 😀

He’s home

Elizabeth missed her dada so much while he was away.  In fact I didn’t really notice how badly she missed him while he was gone.  She wasn’t fussy or asking about him in any unusual ways; sadly it’s common for them to miss each other even when he does come home after work.  He simply leaves for work before she’s awake in the morning and comes home after she’s in bed again; to her, he wasn’t home that day.

dsc_1318

I had no idea when he was going to be coming home; in fact I thought it was going to be the following day.  Out of nowhere I saw him pull into the driveway and told Elizabeth “let’s go outside, dada’s home!”  Instantly she ran toward the front door which was conveniently open as it has been beautiful mid-70’s weather lately.  Later in the afternoon while we were at dinner to celebrate dad being home Elizabeth would not let him go.  We set her up in a booster seat, which is also a first, but she just wanted to be held by him and cuddle.  When Elizabeth cuddles she rests her chin on your shoulder and pats your back; it’s seriously the cutest thing.  Being held by dada was the only thing she wanted the entire evening, and the following day.  It was so sweet to see, and I cannot get over it.

Since then, she has gone back to the normal routine of sometimes seeing him during lunch, sometimes not at all, we’re so unbelievably blessed that she is easy going and not really bothered by the unpredictable schedule yet.  She is arriving at the age where she will be impacted by his being gone for days, weeks, and God forbid, months.  We’ve been very self-sufficient in maintaining the home and our lives together (with Alodia, too).  Not much changes in our routines and habits when he leaves nor when he returns.  As a family we kind of just fit him into the rythmic works of our everyday lives.

As heartbreaking as it will be to see her sadness when he is absent, celebrating his returns will be worth it.

Finding peace

We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. -Albus Dumbledore

I recently made a decision to clean my life.  Actually, clean doesn’t really explain it properly.  I scrubbed and disinfected my life.  I began this process shortly after Elizabeth was born about a year and a half ago; I finally realized that I wasn’t as happy as I could be.  However I remained unable to pinpoint exactly what changes needed to be made to ensure that I was as happy as I should be.

I began my pursuit of happiness by purging belongings of mine.  This was helpful twofold: 1. Minimalism is freedom, and 2.  We move very frequently, therefore fewer belongings is simply fewer things to pack, move, unpack, etc.  I was relieved, but it wasn’t removing the weight from my shoulders that inspired the purge.

At that point, I decided to attempt to change personal habits.  I did this by making sure to clean up immediately to reduce stress throughout everyday life and also to set a more concrete schedule for waking, eating, etc.  Like minimizing, this too improved my life, but still fell short from removing the weight I was aiming to dispose of.

The last attempt I made was concerning relationships. Only recently did I became aware of the impact toxic relationships have had on me my entire life.  It is difficult to notice things you are so used to.  It’s like the smell of home: you are capable of noticing the smell of others’ homes, but are desensitized to your own, although it is there.

I decided to clean my life of relationships that involved 100% negative emotions, and 0% positive.  These relationships were with people who I dreaded talking to because I was constantly insulted, discredited, humiliated, or just plain old bullied.  With these people, I would experience something wonderful (pregnancy, for example) and absolutely dread informing them because I knew it would result in a snide comment.  These people caused me to become a worse person when I was thinking of or in the presence of them.  The last thing I want is for my family to suffer through the same things I have, especially with me being the toxic person; and they definitely were while I was preoccupied over these awful relationships.

Obviously that led to a bit of drama from some third parties, but the amount of support I received was truly eye-opening.  The immense weight lifted from my shoulders was, and is, immeasurable.

There have been so many improvements to my life which I never could have envisioned being bound to this one simple stressor.  I feel uplifted, peaceful, and relaxed in ways I never have before.  Letting go has been one of the most freeing things I could have ever done for myself and my family.

I can only hope that it is just as peaceful for the other people.  Without the awfulness they associated with me (as I’ve been so constantly informed), I genuinely hope they are as happy as I am.  Some things are simply not meant to be and forcing them is where situations become catastrophic.

Know that it is okay to let people go if both parties are suffering because of a forced relationship.  Be at peace with finding, rekindling, or utilizing loved ones who truly do love you.  Do not put up with any form of abuse for any excuse whatsoever.  Stand up for yourself so you can be at peace, it’s well worth it for you and those who sincerely love you. ❤

Allow yourself to be happy so that you can be the best you for those who need that.

Valentine’s Day craft inspiration

I love holidays and especially love the fun that comes with them.  People tend to tuck their creativeness away until holidays where it will suddenly emerge!  I wouldn’t complain if we were all creative all the time though. 😉

Crafts and artwork are always fun, and the best thing is that with holidays I don’t necessarily have to be mentally creative or imaginative for the themed crafts since so many people already have been and share their great ideas.

That brings me here, with lovely ideas to do for Valentine’s day crafts for Elizabeth and Alodia which I have rounded up here to share with you.  Once Elizabeth wakes up we’ll begin our craft date on the porch! ❤

wool-heart-wreath-decoration

These hearts are quick and easy and can be made entirely with leftover craft scraps and recycling.  How great is that?  I can imagine how cute these would look hanging on a girly Christmas tree, too.

fingerprint-tree

Crafts that celebrate not only a holiday but that also capture a moment in time like these fingerprints are especially dear to me.  This fingerprint heart tree could so easily be mailed to loved ones as a Valentine’s day card!

3-valentine-day-shaving-cream-heart-art-with-kids

These hearts are so pretty I’d love to make some simply to hang in the girl’s play area!  They just use paper, paint, scissors, and shaving cream.  Imagine how fun that will be for little hands to get messy with (even big hands, lets be serious, I’d smush it around too).

I can’t even collect any more at the moment, I’m too eager to get the supplies assembled so Elizabeth can dive right in after waking up before it gets dark and buggy!  Happy Sunday!

Sources: yarn hearts  |  fingerprint tree  |  shaving cream heart

What is a dad?

My dad wasn’t there.  He abandoned my mom and my two older sisters while I was still a fetus, maybe even earlier.  He physically left when I was just six weeks old.  Legally left us when I was about 6 months old.  The divorce was nasty, I found records of it when I was about 20 and while reading through them, I sobbed, I never made it through all of them.

My father figure as I refer to him as, George, was a godsend.  Many of my traits, philosophies, mannerisms, and interests come straight from him.  He has the warmest heart, but carries a big “fuck it” attitude.  He is one of the hardest working people, even when not at work.  When a flood destroyed my mom’s garage while I was an infant, he built us a new one, and he put it in a better location.  When my mom’s cars were in the shop for whatever reason (as they frequently were) he provided a backup pickup for her to use.  When we had basketball or lacrosse games or recitals, he was there to cheer us on.  Christmas mornings, he was there.

He taught me how to work, how to fish and shoot a gun, drive a car, hammer a nail, swear like a grumpy old man, and he taught me to respect myself, most importantly without guilt.  He was also the one to drop me in a snowbank if I wasn’t behaving right.

My husband is the best father I could ever imagine for our girls.  I didn’t grow up with a dad to admire.  I didn’t dream about walking down the aisle at my wedding with my dad (but I did dream about the day I could change my last name for a positive reason).

20150714 Butler-324

My husband isn’t home frequently.  His work is physically and mentally demanding and exhausting.  He holds so much responsibility concerning both people and things, and that’s just talking about work.  It seems like when he is home he’s either doing work or sleeping; he rarely cleans or does projects around the house.  He doesn’t have time for hobbies.  But he does father our children.  He is always able to push whatever he’s busy with aside for one or both of the girls.  Almost nightly, when he’s home, he falls asleep with one of them on his chest.  I have so many photos I could print a calendar with a new photo each day.  He lovingly sleeps in Elizabeth’s room if she’s having a particularly rough night, and he so delicately carries them both so I have “off” time.

butlerfamily-122

He mentally freaks out when one of them gets hurt or startled, like so many dads-of-daughters do, and he simply cannot say no.

I’m hoping that he will be present for their recitals and sports games, and that he’s able to teach them how to fish and shoot, drive, and use tools.  However in his career path he may not be able to do many of those, if any, but I know he does (and will do) everything he possibly can for them.  ❤  He is the perfect dad.

Sappy post because Elizabeth has been asking for him all day but she’ll have to wait a couple weeks to see him. (Plus he deserves a little praise every once in awhile, right?)