February 28, 2014

3 Years

Three years ago we made a marriage covenant in a clearing in the woods. The trees were heavy with snow and the sky was bright. It was 18 degrees that day and enormous, fluffy flakes fell gently all day long, like Narnia. I love that we made our covenant in such a unique place. I also love that every time it snows big, fat flakes my husband says, “It’s Narnia snow, Dear,” and we share a look that remembers that afternoon underneath our ‘wedding tree.’ It is such a beautiful memory.

I don’t know if my husband thinks of our wedding day whenever I wear the blue stadium coat that I wore over my wedding dress, but I do. I think of sitting in my car with Melinda at the wheel and the little girls in the back. We sang Lincoln Brewster’s ‘Today is the Day.’  

I am so proud of what Bryon and I have accomplished in the past 1,095 days. Of course I haven’t blogged it all because believe it or not, I don’t share everything. Plowman was totally right; it is the hard patches that knit your marriage together the tightest. I love each and every experience we've had. It's been a really good 1,095 days.

God remains at the helm of our family. He is our Savior and our protector. I am in love with how my husband holds my hands at bedtime to pray. I love how we've grown as a Christian family. We continue to look for ways to grow as a Christian husband and wife every day. I know this has been the single most important thing in our marriage.

Bryon Ray is my best friend and I know without any doubt in the world that I am his, too. That is an amazing feeling. I know that when he leans against me in the kitchen or puts his head in my lap, he's needing me. When he spills his work guts on me, that is needing me, too. When he fills my car with gas and gets the kids ready for school, that is taking care of me. That man makes a hero's effort to listen and to learn me, too. He's won my heart forever. 

We communicate a lot! We argue more than I thought we would in the beginning. But now that we’re settled into Us, I wonder how couldn’t we? We are both strong and stubborn. Additionally, we've both been hurt by our ex-spouses deeper than any wound, and come back from that having learned a million lessons. Defense is a reflex sometimes. It’s hard to put your pride down when you’re talking to your forever spouse (as opposed to the ex-ghost in your head) but we’re getting much better at it now. There is nothing flimsy about us or our love. We are all in and that means thick passion to the hilt. It feels good. And making up is my favorite.

Having ex-spouses is a complication that is unique to remarriage. It would be disingenuous of me not to mention this, or to talk about how we've handled it because it is huge. I can tell you that neither of us was prepared enough for this complication in the beginning. Having exes is irritating no matter what kind of people they are and their involvement can become destructive to a marriage. That's just the truth of it. The past 3 years has felt like a training class, part storytelling and part jujitsu. We’re still learning. We try to be proactive and defend our boundaries. We've learned to jealously guard our marriage because exes can assume that old intimacy still exists. There can be a tendency to 'take advantage' sometimes. Old ghosts resurface. Prayer becomes like breathing. We've learned to press on and be merciful anyway. We forgive continually. And we make the best decisions we can together, in consideration of our family first. I cannot reflect on our three years without recognizing the two people who have STRENGTHENED OUR MARRIAGE immeasurably. Both Bryon and I were hard-forged; we lived ugly before. We scraped and clawed to cling to hope and the promise of love in the middle. And now we stand solid together because of the hard patches we've knit up and survived together.   

Boundaries are important in any relationship. Identify your values and protect them before anything else, People, because the devil preys. I can assure you that if something crosses a boundary in our marriage, we both react like ninjas. Sorry, worldly temptations – you can’t have us or our kids. Sorry, dishonest friend – I don’t think so. Sorry, porn – you don’t belong here. Sorry, person taking advantage - no thanks. Neither one of us allows the other to be taken advantage of or bullied anymore – like, ever. We protect one another like WHOA. I love that. You can’t mess with just one of us; it doesn't happen. You get both jujitsu ninjas and we’ll both be smiling and holding hands when we show up at your door, too. We operate as a team; we are ONE. *Knuckles, Babe.*

He still makes my panties end up in the ceiling fan and I went to work with a hickey this week. So there is that. And That would make the paint peel off of the walls it's so fabulous.

You know what? More than anything, we are HAPPY. Like, wow happy! Of course there are gloomy days and please do note the aforementioned patches we've navigated in the past 1,095 days. But really, Jesus, thank you. We recently wandered around a bookstore for an hour for absolutely no reason and laughed and made faces until we cried. We returned home from a dinner date and shot moose together for 2 hours. We PLAY and hold hands all the time. We encourage one another, even if that means being tough on each other. We try to serve one another the way Christ intended. That, I've never had - and that, I really, really appreciate.  

Three years later and I am overcome with gratitude for this man and for our marriage. We share a beautiful family, which we parent together without exception. I am so grateful for the way God has blended all 6 of us. The seams are all His doing and boy howdy, they are tight.

I'm such a lucky girl.

February 27, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

1. I have two kids that swim against the grain a little. They are 'weird' and I don't want them to change a single bit. Because being a little weird is being AWESOME. It's what God asked us! Be different, be an individual. Don't follow the "in crowd." Love, love, love weird. We all have a freak flag, people. Just just can't be afraid to fly it.

2. Ahem. Yes.

3. Cakies always has the cutest crafts. I LOVE this. It is a wire hanger, bent, and covered with yarn.

4. Gorgeous living room.

5. Oh, I love this one, too! Look at that ceiling and the fanciness of it all... paired with that ginormous skull. Bwahahahahahaaa...

6. I used to wear a baseball hat all the time in high school and after. It was a JCrew color block wool cap and I have a senior picture of it. I love this black/charcoal version. I wear one when I golf, but seriously may need to look into this again. I miss my hat.

7. Love this pony tail and the long, shaggy sides.

8. Dear awesome lipstick, please come into my life. Amen.

9. Love this outfit. A lot.

10. Would you note the awesome DIY on these skinnies? This chick chopped the extra length clean off at the ankle!

11. While I'm not about revealing my breasts in public, I do love this combo. I think there is a lot of great inspiration here: the hair, the denim, and the black underneath. A deep vneck would accomplish the same feel, I think. Love it.

12. Why, hello darling hair.

13. Of all the homemade books I've seen on the interwebs, a family recipe book may be my most favorite of all. I am suddenly inspired to thoroughly interview Nana.

14. I am 100% in love with this tattoo and placement. WOW.

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February 25, 2014

On Weddennessday

Please consider this my making faces at my mother, by way of iPhone distortion.

And these 3 were too funny to leave out.


February 20, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

1. While I don't scrap often anymore, I still adore a great font. Free fonts, HERE

2. This reclaimed wood headboard. WOW.

3. If you aren't reading www.vintagerevivals.com, you should. DIY pendant lights, HERE

4. Wendy, didn't you tell me you macrame? Ever make something like this? I am in LOVE with woven textiles.

5. Summer is coming. I can feel it trembling under the snow (probably shivering from the cold). I love this tee. A lot.


6. This is my favorite Free People necklace. It does weigh a ton and my husband has to put it on/take it off for me, but I adore it.

7. I was thrilled when I found this breakfast suggestion from Ree Drummond. Roasted zucchini and summer squash with tomatoes and eggs. Paleo and delicious!

8. If there were ever a television couple that would make an amazing real couple (you know, if they were single and stuff) it would be Mer and Der. LOVE them. Such chemistry.

9. Here's another blog you've gotta devour: www.thebeautydepartment.com

10. Ladies, look at the ankles. They're ripped off. Amaze.

11. I adore Bethany Menzel. She's got a great blog and a wonderful heart for The Lord. Plus, her style makes me swoon. Love her hair here!

12. Wanted: Maxi dress plus slub cardigan. 

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February 19, 2014


Every day this week I’ve had the same breakfast: almonds, grapes, and swiss cheese.  Seriously, remarkably good. I am blessed to live in a country where such good stuff is available, you know?

I have a small bone to pick this morning but I’m doing my damndest to let that dog lie. On the ground where it belongs. Even though I’d rather kick it.
Folks, I have discovered Evernote. Have you? It is an app that is available for just about every smart device out there and it allows you to keep track of details, lists, appointments, recipes – anything you want across all of your devices at the same time. It’s encrypted, password-protected, and FREE.  I have the ability to make a note about a meeting the next day and then pull that note up on my phone AND at my work computer. I can make an interactive grocery list and send it to my husband. Christmas list with links. Changes are live. It is AMAZING. Oh – and while Pinterest is a great spot to keep all of my ‘nice to have’ ideas, when I am ready to make imminent plans and want to scour the interwebs for details (what, don’t you?), I can clip them all to Evernote and search it when I’m ready. Evernote will actually search for text within images. And there is a partner app (also free) called Penultimate, which allows me to make handwritten lists and mark up photos. Hello, diagramming my living room redesign! So, so cool. Check it out, Peeps!

This weekend I plan to make Paleo cocoroons. They are similar to macaroons, but are Paleo. I bought some at my local crunchy locale and noticed that the ingredients were simply raw, shredded coconut, lemon zest and juice, coconut oil, and almond flour. Uhhhh… ok! I considered it a personal obligation to make them myself from that point forward. I might even throw some dried fruit into a few. Or cacao chips if I’m feeling particularly naughty that day. I will report back, don’t you fret none.

Oh Lord. I have a confession to make. Promise y’all will still speak to me after this? Bryon and I have two new favorite television shows that we are particularly embarrassed about: Party Down South and Myrtle Manor. Yes, yes, I know. The kids aren’t allowed to watch and more than once we’ve closed our own eyes to prevent ‘Lil Bit’s little bits from being seared into our brains. That said, it is like a train wreck I can’t stop staring at. We laugh out loud all the time. Please join us in shaking your heads, too, because it is crazy. Our favorite thing is to catch up on all of our southern, swampy reality shows at once. Hoooo-ey!

So I cleaned my closet a little. After writing my post about wardrobe updating, I just had to. I made a very thorough list of alllllllllll of my clothing and categorized it according to absolute KEEP and ‘meh.’ I am clearly not finished. I thought the purging would make much more of an impact, honestly. I still have to go back through and be tougher on myself, I think. Also, I’m still combining winter and summer into one closet for these last few chilly weeks. Months? Sigh, whatev, Winter.  Anyway, once I take out some of the winter items, I fully expect it to be much more manageable.

I’ve been drinking more than 2 liters of water per day for the past couple of weeks. While I positively do not appreciate having to urinate so frequently, I have noticed a remarkable difference in my body. The water weight drops, digestion is better, and my skin is softer. That’s the one that surprised me: my face doesn’t look so dry anymore!

I talked to my mommy recently and she’s surviving under the 68” of snow they have back east. She always picked on me for living out here in Da Plains where the ‘winters are so long and cold and snowy.’ Uh huh. Judy is no longer allowed to blame the weather. Sorry, Mom. You win this year. You win lowest temperature and most snow! PLEASECOMEMOVEOUTHERE.

While we were back east last year, we bought my mother a new television and brought her broken one home. After a $17 kit on Amazon and some spot welding, the broken one is no longer broken, but blaring Blanche Deveraux in my bedroom. This means our television was passed down to Andrew, who has been acting mature enough to earn some private television viewing in his room. He was ecstatic. The first thing he did was watch all of the Star Wars movies in a row, 4 times. He’s always been a Star Wars fan, but now we’ve bumped up into the category of quotations, jokes, and Chewie noises every day.

[Scrapbook page from 2007]

Mabel rediscovered George the monkey this week. Remember Andy’s monkey George? He was a gift from Nana the first time we lived with her and he carried him around for about 8 years. [As an aside, I have searched all over for a photo of Andy and George and cannot find the one I want. Must come back to this later.] Mabel really didn’t care for George until recently. He laid at the bottom of her toy box until this week. Now she’s been carting George around and dressing him (her?) up in her dolly clothes. He’s not nearly as precious to her as horse Lucy, but she loves him alright. Andrew was very jealous at first, wanting to keep George (and all of his Andy memories) hidden away. Gradually he agreed that she could play with George, just so long as she gave him a new last name.

He is now George Lucas.

Oh my.

February 18, 2014

The Accomplice of Evil Dr. Porkchop

So you know how I proudly proclaimed that Bocephus was mommy's boy?

It turns out either he was faking it or I have been seeing things because this cat belongs to one individual and one individual only.

Sure, he spent his entire kittenhood attached to my neck. Sure, he plays with Daddy at bedtime and sleeps on his head pretending to moonlight as Daddy's boy. And sure, he and Andy have a special bond. All of that is still very true because Bo has room enough to love everyone.

But, he is promised to one little peep.

Bobo belongs to Mabel Rae with his whole heart.

She carts him around everywhere and considering how looooong Bo is, he uncurls to her full height. But still, she carries him around with his toes dragging the carpet and still, he lets her. He even purrs when she swaddles him like a baby. He loves to follow her into the potty because something exciting happens everywhere she goes. She scratches his ears and chin while she's supposed to be sleeping so he's declared her bed as his favorite night-night spot. He sleeps at the foot of her bed (hanging off both sides) for a portion of every night and I've found him more than once on her pillow, curled around her head and licking her hair. 

I think he came into our home as a kitten and she's treated him like a baby ever since. He's just grateful for the attention. 

So now he supervises her every move. Especially bathtime.

And especially if there are toys floating in the water. He usually reaches in with his paw to play, too. And yes, he's gone "swimming". Bobo loves the water. This time Mabes was pretending that the evil Dr. Porkchop had sent Bo to chase her dolphins. Scuurrrry!

Sweet love. 

February 17, 2014

And A Happy Monday to You

It was a wonderful Valentine's Day, let me tell you what.


Sorry. I make myself laugh far too often.

Anyway, the Jedi made reservations at our most favorite restaurant for Friday evening. Their chef is creative and the food is not mass-produced, so he is more than willing to make any of their options gluten-free. I had the filet with roasted snap peas and asparagus. It was amazing. More importantly, I had my favorite martini (did I ever mentioned that my dad loved martinis? yes, only his were of the dry variety) and we reminisced.

We sat a few booths away on our first date, where Bryon wore a white button down shirt and argyle socks and ate a cheeseburger - and I had a chicken sandwich and told stories. We fell more in love in that booth.

We sat in the same booth that we found ourselves in after every premarital counseling session with Plowman, learning more and more about one another and the crazy thing we were buckling together for life.

We sat beside the table where Lulu and Roger, Joe +1, and Shannon and Shelly joined us the night before we got married. Remember, the Non Rehearsal Dinner? Martinis and stories were flowing that night and someone shhhhh-ed me. Ha. That was funny, wasn't it, Lulu?

After dinner, my Jedi took me to the bar to enjoy a nightcap. Except it was 7:30 and we felt aged. So we went home and fired up the Wii to play Top Shot Arcade and shoot stuff together. Turns out I am a fabulous couch hunter. We played and laughed for hours. It was an amazing Valentine's Day.

Mabel loved on Kiki.

Hayley loved her new glasses.

I loved being able to connect with Lulu.

Mabel got new shoes so Bo loved the box.

And while Bryon was loving the time he had to organize power tools, I loved Jenna Lyons on last week's Girls episode.

Chicken nachos and a husband who loves the Lord. Every time I think it's impossible to feel more blessed, God graces us again.

And Dear B: Thank you for choosing optimism and happiness. Thank you for loving this crazy life with me. And thank you for reassuring me that we could hunt anything together anytime. You are my partner for life, Homeboy.

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February 13, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

1. Eames shell chairs, always and forever. I'm'a find me some white ones someday.

2. LOVE the Free People Gentry boot

3. Cranberry, gray, and black is a favorite combo of mine.

4. Killer idea.

5. One day I will come across an awesome quilted coat shoved into a thrift rack and I will brag and brag and brag. Also, I love the scarf, the black pants, and the ankle boots in this outfit.

6. You go, girl. You stick that vintage tank right up next to the designer skirt, and please do throw on an awesome bib necklace and do your hair up prairie-girl style. ROCK ON.

7. Dear Bryr clogs, please become cheaper and more available. Amen.

8. This.

9. Birkenstocks for spring? Love this.

10. I like these suggestions!

11. Denim jackets with black pants will always be top notch. Always.

12. I love the soft, messiness of this french twist. My hair is almost long enough to try it.

13. New favorite website: www.intothegloss.com - LOVE the beauty articles and I think one of the contributers may obsess about hair as much as I do!

14. These jeans are amazing!

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