Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The 16 Ways I Got Through The First Five Years of Marriage

Right before our first anniversary, I wrote a post about how I got through the first year of marriage. I think that list was pretty great, even now, after we've been married almost five years! I can't believe this month, we will be celebrating our fifth anniversary. I thought I would add to my list and write about how we got through our first five years of marriage.
1. There really isn't a day that goes by that one of us doesn't tell the other what we appreciate about each other. We are very specific. Sometimes, it's what we contribute to the household chores, sometimes it's what we appreciate about the other person as a spouse, sometimes it's what we appreciate about the other as a parent. Sometimes, they are big things and other times they are small, like "I appreciate that you always are the one that cleans the toilets!"
2. I've learned that a day can change right that very minute. Just because you are mad right now, doesn't mean you have to stay mad the rest of the day. Just because you woke up in a bad mood, doesn't mean the rest of the day has to be bad. You can change your mood any time, any where.
3. We try and be very deliberate about spending time with each other without kids, maybe not every day if it's not possible, but a few times every week. Most of the time, it's just time on the couch after the kids go to bed, or maybe we go outside and sit on the patio.
4. I stopped comparing myself to Jason - there are aspects of Jason's personality that I am envious of. He is more patient than I am, he is more levelheaded, he is much more fun with the kids. I had to accept that I am different and offer different things to our marriage and to our kids. I spent a lot of time wishing I was different than who I was and wishing I had more of those qualities, but it occurred to me that one of us had to be like that and the other has to be another way to balance it out. He never tried to make me more like him and I certainly never tried to make him more like me.
5. We realized that both of us handle situations differently when we are stressed, worried, tired, excited, etc. We never expected the other to handle it like we would. When Jason is stressed, he feels it physically in his body, he gets headaches or stomach aches. When I get stressed, I get compulsive about cleaning, or working. I can't expect Jason to handle things the way I do, or visa versa.
6. We found money to get away, even if we just spend one night in a hotel in DFW. No matter how broke we were, we had to take a little for ourselves to give ourselves something to look forward to, as a couple. Having things to look forward to as a couple is incredibly important - be it a musical, a fancy night out, a trip out of town - you have to break up the mundane.
7. We were purposeful in maintaining friendships and relationships with people. We invited people over. A lot. We cooked dinner for our friends, we visited friends, both together and separately. You have to be able to get out of your four walls and each other and invest in other people's lives.
8. We learned how to fight and resolve conflict in front of the kids, but also to learn when it was appropriate to argue in private. We (I) learned not to be disrespectful to each other in front of the kids. We had to teach our kids that it's OK to disagree, respectfully, then how to resolve the issue, then move on with the rest of your day. There were several days we had arguments in our car, then got out, and had a great rest of the day. When we expect kids to "change their attitude," we held ourselves accountable to change our attitudes, too.
9. I learned how to accept a compliment from my husband. Before I had Avery and before I gained weight, taking compliments was easy. After I gained 40 pounds, when I looked in the mirror, there were days I couldn't understand why he thought I was so beautiful. I stopped questioning his reasons and I stopped assuming he was only saying nice things to "make me feel better" or for his own selfish reasons. I just believed that he meant it and when he said, "You are so pretty today!" I said "thanks honey," instead of, "How can you think that, I look so fat!"
10. We have fun together. Lots of fun. Life can get hard, but we still stop and take time to laugh and have a good time with each other. Otherwise, what's the point??
11. We still tell each other every day "I love you" and we still kiss goodbye every time we leave the house. And many times in between.
12. We share things we've learned and our experiences, be it good or bad, with others, especially those who haven't gotten married yet. We don't pretend our marriage is better than it is or worse than it is - what you see is how we are, all the time, even behind the scenes. It gives people hope when they know what you've overcome to get where you are and to see that while things can be bad, it's not what happens in life, it's all about how you handle it.
13. We are very, very, very good at speaking to the other about what we need from each other. We don't take it personally if the other says, "I've seen you too much this week, I need a break!" I think we do really well at communicating then following through on doing what the other person needs.
14. We support each other but don't try to fix each other's problems. I had to learn that Jason's work issues, for example, weren't mine to solve. I had to learn to just listen until he asked for my advice. The same goes with him. Listening, supporting, but not fixing, unless asked to. This is a game changer.
15. We back each other up when it comes to the kids. If we disagree with something the other parent did, we don't say it in front of the kid, we say it behind closed doors. Discipline, bedtimes, eating dinner, whether or not to stop watching TV, it doesn't matter. We are behind each other 100% (in front of the kids) and discuss it if we aren't, in private.
16. Most importantly, God has remained the most important thing. We serve in our church together, pray as a family, pray for each other, and treat each other the way we think God would want us to.
I thought about this - in another five years, Jordan will be graduating high school. That's nuts. These years have flown by, to say the least!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: The Walking Dead, "The Distance"

I've been pretty vocal about my love of The Walking Dead. It's the one show I can't wait to watch, the one show I will watch as it comes on and suffer through the commercials. For the first time, last night, I realized I didn't watch it Sunday night and had to watch it on DVR. I was surprised that I had forgotten, to be honest. But this season hasn't been my favorite one, at all. There have been episodes in the past five seasons I have suffered through, I call them "story fillers" - they are only there to move the story along, but are incredibly boring. This season, so far, it's not that the episodes have been boring, it's that I am getting really tired of the plot line not going anywhere different. The show has repeated the same cycle since the beginning - our survivors wander until they find a place to stay, the people they find are crazy, they kill everyone, then they move on until they do it again. Last week, we saw them at their wit's end. Tired, hungry, thirsty, and filled with despair over the life they have had to lead, we saw them wondering through a lush desert, unable to find shelter, food, or water. This week, hopefully, we have been given some hope.
We meet Aaron, a well groomed, well spoken, kind stranger who has admitted to following our group and has asked them to come to his community, where he promises safety and refuge. (Hmm, where have we heard this before? Terminus? The Governor's camp?) So, with good reason, our fearless leader Rick is hesitant to trust him. He distrusts him so much that he puts his group in danger to make sure this man is who he really says he is. Although I have to admit, barreling through an endless hoard of walkers was pretty awesome to witness. Finally, Michonne has taken a stance on what she feels like the group should do, and admits to Rick that it would almost be better to suffer the consequences of more crazy people if it means they get somewhere they can all rest, even for a short time. I am not sure how I would feel either, and we hear Rick admit that he isn't sure anyone could say anything at this point to convince him that this new community is a good one, he just has to witness it for himself. I am with you, Rick, can't say I'd be any different.
What we do see in this episode is that these people have been asked in the last however many months? Years? to constantly adapt to new surroundings to survive. We have gone past the point in The Walking Dead that the walking dead are the number one enemy. The number one enemy is fighting against yourself, trusting when you shouldn't trust, killing when you don't want to kill, and going against all you have learned in a life pre-apocalypse to survive in a new world with new rules that change constantly and swiftly. I am glad we have finally gotten to this point because I do know a bit of the comic book story and I feel like this place will be a positive place and Aaron will be a trustworthy friend, even if the peace won't last all that long. However, we all know that the comics and the show don't always reconcile together, so who knows what will happen. But we do know that we finally see Rick's eyes show a glimmer of hope when he hears the laughing and playing of children and he sees the possibility of giving his baby girl a life where she can learn to run and play, and cry like it's every baby's right to do, within the safety of walls. I hope for the viewers sake that we have finally changed the cycle of this show, because I don't know how much more of these horrible plot lines I can take and keep wanting to watch.

How Did You Spend Your Ice Day?

We had such a lazy couple of days around here.
We did make it outside for just a little while.
My crazy pup loves to eat the ice. She couldn't get enough! The dogs also loved playing in the ice. They went nuts!! That is, until they came inside and proceeded their lazy life on the couch.

We even got some hot chocolate afterwards!

Jason lets the kids eat ice, which grosses me out, but hey. I guess one parent has to be the fun one. Avery loved being outside, even though we were only outside a total of about 10 minutes.

The streets looked decent enough to get out of the house, so we went and had some breakfast for dinner at Denny's. I haven't been to Denny's in ages, but boy, they have some good pancakes!

And now, getting back to Day Two of inside fun!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Birdman: A Review

As I sit here attempting to figure out what I thought about Birdman, I am having a hard time deciding whether I really liked it or simply appreciated it for what it offered while being incredibly annoyed at the entire experience. The line between artistic, unique filmmaking and ridiculous nonsense is often so thin that it's difficult to determine what a movie actually is. In this case, I can see both sides of the story.
If you don't like reaching out of your comfort zone in a movie and having numerous questions that are never answered, this movie isn't one you should see. The entire movie is based on an attempted comeback of a has-been superhero actor played by Michael Keaton (whom I have always loved and loved in this movie). He has spent the majority of his career playing Birdman, but hasn't done much in the last twenty years. In an attempt to prove he is a real actor willing to take risks, he writes, directs, and stars in an theatrical adaptation of a book that will premiere on Broadway, which he and his lawyer friend (Zach Galafinakis) spend all of their money to produce. We are introduced to Keaton's character from the beginning with questionable "powers." In the opening scene, we see him floating in his dressing room while meditating, which is the beginning of many "magical" occurances that happen thoughout the film. These occurances are eventually shown as his hallucinations; in one scene. he is angry and begins destroying his dressing room using telekinesis. But as other people come in, we see he is actually picking up the items with his hands. This storyline is essential, as reality and what is going on in his head are constantly at battle and contributes entirely to what will end up providing the debate of the ending of the movie.  
As the film continues, it becomes obvious that the character of Birdman is a second voice in his head that taunts and tempts him into self-doubt. We see the film over a series of four nights, three previews of the Broadway show and opening night and the entire movie is filmed in one continuous shot - which made me wonder if this unique technique isn't the reason the movie received such accolades. If this hadn't been the case, would the movie have been as good? I hardly think so. The filmmaking itself is what deserves the praise here, not the actual storyline. I realized as I was watching the movie and began reading some background on the director and his vision, that I appreciated the movie much more, once I learned the challenge of making a movie like this is. I don't think I should have to read background to know a movie is good, but in this case, it was necessary to me fully appreciating the film.
There are several character studies going on here as well. The main antaagonist in the film is played by Edward Norton, a narcissistic yet legendary theater actor known in New York, whose style of acting is offensive and crude, yet incredibly effective. I felt like the underlying tone of Michael Keaton's character is that he questions what would have become of his career had he opted not to play such a popular character and chosen to play serious roles instead. Norton's character is who he would have been - a man so successful onstage, yet so incredibly unrelatable as a person offstage. Norton plays the character flawlessly, I love him but really didn't care for him most of the time, which was the point. We also get to know his daughter, played by Emma Stone, a grown woman struggling to come to grips with her father, who had been non-existent in her childhood but more than present through adulthood. We see through her perspective that she is as quirky and odd as her father, but has spend her adulthood overcoming a dad who wasn't bad, he just wasn't there. By the end, we see her come to terms with his reality as we watch her see her father "fly away" in the end scene after seeing him jump out of a window.
I came out of this movie thinking on a certain level, it was a cool film. During the movie, I was annoyed at several things. I feel like the movie was longer than it needed to be. I also got very annoyed at the constant sound of drums as the background music. I felt as if the music was there to serve as an effort to keep the suspense going but I started feeling very distracted by it. This was an addition to the film I could have lived without, or perhaps lived with less of. As far as the magical parts of the movie, I felt like it was very difficult to connect what we saw to what he was thinking. Perhaps I am too dumb to make the connection, but I felt like it was a real reach to tie the two ideals together. I almost can't really put my finger on what the "magic" was supposed to represent, other than just to show how disconnected he was becoming from reality at this stage in his life and career. Or perhaps it was him finding it more difficult to disconnect from the powers of his character, Birdman, even though Birdman's powers are never revealed. Either way, it was ambiguous at best.
Keaton's performance was amazing. He did a great job of playing the character he was expected to play and I will be voting for him to win the Oscar. He is the reason I liked the movie, because with the wrong actor, this movie would have been borderline unwatchable.
Bottom line - if you don't like artsy movies, don't even waste your time. It is hardly entertainment and it is certainly not feel good. It is billed as a dark comedy, but I would bill it more as darkly twisted and ironic. This is one of those movies where there are no redeeming qualities of the main character and while we see him, in the end, get what he wanted - relevance and a successful play - we still watch him descend into the madness of his brain with no hopes of coming back out. It's not the worst movie I've seen, but it certainly isn't the best. Watch it when it comes out on Netflix where you won't feel guilty turning it off, since you didn't pay $6 for it, like I did.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cause it's Friday Morning and the Kids are Jumpin, Jumpin...

Urban Air in Mansfield has a deal on Friday mornings for pre-school kids - $5 for a 2 hour jump and parents pay nothing. This is a GREAT deal. So, my sister and I took the girls and went JUMPIN!
The girls had a blast!! We will surely be going back.

This foam pit was a big hit, even for us big girls! Jumping in and climbing out was a workout!

Not a bad way to spend a Friday morning!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why I Love Blankets

I love blankets.
Colorful and cozy throw blankets can add so much to a room. They add warmth and a feeling that people are actually living here! I have loved blankets as long as I can remember. I think it's because my mom always had blankets accessible in rooms growing up. We keep the house pretty cool, so we use blankets constantly, and I have at least two in each room where there are couches and chairs.
Along with providing warmth and being functional, blankets can cover up a host of décor problems including ill-fitting slip covers...
Or adding something to boring backs of couches...

and they can even help tie décor together.

I found two throw blankets on clearance at Target for cheap, cheap, cheap. They weren't exactly what I had in mind, but for the price, I figured, let's make it work.
My mom gave me that great candle holder...not sure if it's going to stay there, but we will see. I need to find some great candles to go with it.

This room is just expansive. I love it. I fell in love with the ranch style beams and high ceilings and great windows the moment I walked in. Taking down the enormous brass chandeliers and putting up those fans was the BEST thing we did.

The other problem I had when I moved into this house was the sliding doors. I am not a huge fan of these doors, French doors would look better, but French doors are PRICEY, so for now, I am dealing with it. I have two sliding doors, one in this room and one in my breakfast nook, and they both lead out to the sunroom. I did the windows two different ways, but in here, I decided to get three curtains and when they are closed, they look like one big curtain.

But when they are opened, they allow in the maximum amount of light and we don't have to mess with constantly opening the curtain to go outside.

I decided to move that picture from the fireplace to the side because it just never looked right to me. I always dreamed of putting a large black and white family picture on that fireplace. I thought the picture would be big enough but it still looked so puny. It is 25 X 36. It is an engineer print from Office Depot that cost me $5. I put it on black foam board from Dollar Tree. It turned out beautiful. That will be my next project for my gallery art hallway I have in my head, but that's another day.
Here is how it looked before the blankets..
and after. Blankets made a huge difference! I also turned the pillows around and moved the ottomans. I just love the way this room is coming together.


The New Family Room

I told you I moved the TV into our other "formal" living room. Well, I like the idea of having a family room and a den, not a den and a formal living room. While our big room is technically "formal," I still think of it as the den. So, now, we have a family room. I love that it's right by the dining area. I feel like it really is a great place to spend time as a family.
Of course, the dogs aren't allowed on the new couches, but they still have to at least one place to relax. Their lives are very stressful, after all.

I still have some painting to do, but as of now, it's just kind of a mish-mash of stuff together. It goes together OK for now. It feels very comfy and cozy and that's what I wanted.

There is a bit of a glare from here, but we don't spend much time watching TV during the day at this point, so for now, it's just fine.

The curtains make more sense now, I think they "match" better than before. And like I said, it's comfortable. That's what we were missing before - I truly comfortable room to spend time. I am very happy with how it all turned out!