Old ipads, and other life difficulties not worth complaining about

I haven’t blogged in a while and I blame it on my ipad.  I have started a few posts and then, when I try to add a picture or go to save the draft, my ipad freezes or shuts down and I get frustrated and give up.  A week later I try again.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  

This time I won’t save a draft or add a picture.  I will just hit “publish” and be done with it.  And maybe take all of the “shutting down” and “your ipad does not have enough storage” stuff seriously at some point.  I feel like this thing is going to just start melting on me one day.

Anyway.  Rebooting the old blog because my friend Jen texted me today that Monkey’s surgery was two years ago today.  He was three.  She posted a picture of him as Buzz Lightyear on facebook, and facebook “cares about your memories” and reminded her (and me).  

Not that I forgot- one does not forget brain surgery on their preschooler.  But I did forget if it was on the 5th or the 7th.  

He is good.  Healthy.  

We are thankful.  

That is all! 

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I’m About to Boss You Around

As I get older I become more and more like my mom.  She would offer her opinions and advice- ahem- freely.  Me?  I used to think and think before I talked.  Made sure I had really earned the right to give my thoughts or was directly, explicitly asked for my opinion.  Then I would offer it.

Not anymore!  And you guys can reap all of the benefits!

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As I approach my ten year anniversary, let me tell you a few things about how you should live your married life.  Based on an entire decade of wedded bliss including (but not limited to) six homes, nine jobs, and four kids.  Fortunately we’ve made no mistakes or poor decisions during this decade, so rest assured this advice is sound.

1.  Live off of one income.  Even if you’re DINKs (double income, no kids) and rolling in it.  Even if you’re DINKs and poor.  Save and give generously with that second income.
One day, one of you might lose your job.  One day, you might have kids and want to stay home.  One day, you might have an unexpected health issue that, even with good insurance, runs you (tens of) thousands of dollars.  Practice living on one income and living well within your means.

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This applies to buying a house!  Don’t buy what you are approved for; buy thinking about what you can afford month to month WITH a financial buffer in mind.  The bigger house is not worth it if you are barely scraping by every month.  I have tried to talk my husband into purchases like this before and thankfully he has talked me out of it.

2.  Talk to other people about your marriage.  And pick people who will be pulling for your marriage to win, and not just you.

We have had seasons where we have spun our wheels on particular topics.  We have talked about it nicely in calm, kind voices.  We have yelled and been crappy to each other.  We have thrown things.  (Well, I have anyway.)  Sometimes we just cannot get on top of an issue, and we need to talk to someone else.  We’ve paid counselors, we’ve taken friends out for beer and dessert, and we have met with our pastors.  We bicker and fight and try to listen to an outside, unentrenched perspective.  It has always been a good decision.

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3.   Resist the temptation to reduce your spouse to his/her lowest form and leave him/her there.  We are all prone to bouts of jackassery from time to time.  But don’t keep your spouse pigeonholed in the jackassery.  Chances are, you married a decent person.  Remember that.

Here is an example, because I am talking a little abstract right now.  I come into the kitchen and see my husbands’ late night snack dishes on the counter.  Inner thoughts: “Gah.  Lazy husband; couldn’t even bother to put his dishes in the dishwasher.”  That could be an accurate statement.  Maybe he was being lazy last night.  Or maybe the dishwasher was already running so it made more sense to leave the dishes on the counter.  Either way- I need to resist categorizing him as “lazy” and just leaving him there to rot in my mind.  Lowest form- see?

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(Lazy people don’t get up at 4:30 a.m. to commute to work for two years.  Lazy people don’t run ultra-marathons. Etcetera etcetera.)

I mean, maybe you did marry a lazy person.  Maybe you picked the laziest s.o.b. in the state of Virginia and now- dangit!- you are yoked to him forever and ever.  (Which does beg the question- why did you choose such a lazy person?  That’s an interesting choice to make, don’t you think?).  But, more likely, your spouse is pretty okay as far as spouses go.  Right?  He did not leave those dishes out because he is scum of the earth and intent on making you work your fingers to the bone until you die under a pile of his ice cream bowls.

My husband is much, much better at this than I am.  He sees me much more broadly and kindly than my lazy/selfish/angry moments.  I think I am getting better at this, but every once in a while I still write him off as the lowest form of himself.  Eww.  I do not like when I do this.

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There you go.  All you need to know for a happy, blissful marriage.

What would you add to my list?  I am all ears.

Moving and Mother’s Day

We moved this weekend. Our fourth- and final- move on this block. What can I say? We like this block.

Moving is exciting and exhausting, even when it is just across the street. The two weeks leading up to the move had me walking through our house, feeling totally discontent with the level of crazy and mess, but knowing it would just be like that for a while longer. One of my kids has been particularly difficult to enjoy lately and it dawned on me that maybe that child feels discontent with the crazy and mess, too. I don’t know why it would only be the adults who feel that way.

The good thing about moving is the intention/ambition to go through all the things, once again, and find a home for all of it. If there’s no home for it, I am likely to pitch it. My “donate” pile is pretty large right now and I have already taken multiple trips to Goodwill before we moved. Inevitably, though, I hit a wall of weariness with all of the things and just start putting them anywhere to “deal with it later” and then don’t. So we’ll see how I am doing in a few weeks, and if there will still be boxes lining the dining room at that point.

On another topic, Mothers Day was this weekend. Oh, you didn’t know? You must live under a rock.

It has been almost 11 years since my mom died. She met my then-boyfriend/now-husband, but has missed my move to Charlottesville, my wedding, my grad school graduation, my four kids. My four moves on the same block.

I remember when I moved to Charlottesville, right after she died, and I realized she wouldn’t be coming to town to take me shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. That’s a mom thing to do- take me shopping for the extra pair of sheets and a new toilet scrub brush. But I suppose I did that trip on my own.

I remember the first spring without her. There was a day when everything turned green and it occurred to me that this was the first spring she was not here for.

That first year or so was all like that. It was a constant awareness, with big punches of particular sadness that hit me.

Now the punches are less frequent. I can- and do- enjoy Mother’s Day and the punch is not as intense. But now- 11 years later- it is still a dull pain that she is not here. It surfaces differently at different times.

Some of what I have done without her- my wedding, and having babies- I got to see her do with my siblings. So I can sort of imagine how she would have done that with me. Like, I saw her care a ton about certain details of my sister’s wedding, so I imagine how she would have had the same opinions about mine. I probably would have felt annoyed with her (and her with me) during some of that process. (But I do think she would have loved my dress. Mainly because I found it at an outlet store when my sister and I were shopping for flip flops, and it cost $89. Right up my mom’s alley.)

I saw her with my oldest nephew and nieces when they were toddlers and babies. So I can picture her with my kids as little babies or toddlers. But I feel sad that I don’t have a clear imagination of her with my almost-7 year old. I didn’t get to see that. So the template isn’t there to insert my older kids into now.

I saw my mom navigate having adult kids who did grown-up things like buy houses and get real jobs and stuff. So I can insert myself into that, even though I had neither when she died. But I didn’t see her watch her child turn 40, or see a grandchild through a big surgery, or welcome a grandchild from the other side of the globe through adoption. I imagine her into those situations, but don’t really know how she would have navigated them.

Would she have fussed and prayed and worried around me during his surgery at Johns Hopkins? Or stayed in Loudoun and met with her bible study group that morning to pray? I don’t know. Probably whatever I asked her to do, but I don’t get to really know the answer. No template.

Here’s a template I do have for my mom; one that I thought of yesterday. I was particularly snappy with my two oldest kids last night. We talked about it and I told them I was sorry, and asked their forgiveness. That is a page from my mom’s book. That is me, stepping into what I remember of her.

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