October 1, 2014

End of the month list update: September

A little late, but here's the current status of the list o' goals:

Reach out to my friends: It's been a good month for this! Lots of socializing (largely thanks to the most recent AZ Blogger Meetup, which I'll be telling you all about asap!) and lots of great people. My monkey sphere is full to bursting and I'm not even mad.

Create a new family tradition: Yes, we already have French Bread Friday, but  now we also have our family birthday party to celebrate each year on our anniversary.

Bake something new each month: I tried these cookies and these cookies; both were delicious. I think I've finally figured out what I'm doing wrong, and now my cookies aren't falling flat anymore. I also made a peaches and cream tart that was delicious, even if the peaches were a little past their prime.

Do some work at the Gilbert LDS temple: David and I finally made time to go last week. It was perfect.

Grow a more successful garden: We discovered that our watering method wasn't ideal and all our plants were dying. David fixed that, and now we've got new blossoms on the cucumbers again. Maybe we'll get a late harvest! Plus, this happened. Margot was not sure what to make of that weirdly washed out thing.

Remodel the kitchen: The ol' blog is long overdue for an update in that department. The biggest development was having our backsplash installed. David and I have plans to finish stuff, and once we do I'll have a full photo tour for you.

Figure out a cleaning schedule: This is a work in progress. I'm working on developing some good habits and will let you know how it goes.

Post a monthly think piece: I wrote a couple of those during marriage month: on forgiveness, craziness, and ugliness.

Contribute regularly to my other projects: I officially took a leave of absence from Tipsaholic. With everything going on, it's not something I want to make time for right now. But the Beesley Project is still going strong. We've added some new writers to pick up the slack (sorry Sam!) and are moving forward with new posts every day. Good stuff.

I've got some things in the works for October. Lots of knitting. Lots of behind-the-scenes blog stuffs. Lots of photos to take. Should be fun!

September 29, 2014

Mila Monday

Amelia: 174 weeks

She spread out her library books to jump "from stone to stone across da river."

While I don't usually condone using books this way, it was pretty cute to see her leap around the living room. It's hard to know when to say no and when to just roll with her creativity.

Margot: 76 weeks

This is how she spends a good portion of every day: book in hand with a snack nearby.

So basically, yes, she is 100% my child.

September 26, 2014

The Bloom of the Week || 15

I skipped last week but I'm back in the floral saddle again. Yeehaw!

The desert sage has bloomed at least three separate times this summer, and every time I swear I'm going to get pictures of the giant purple popcorn balls...and every time I wait too long and all the flowers drop off and they're just shrubs again.

Still, the few flowers that stay are awfully pretty.

I sure liked this post from Ashley of the Shine Project about what partnership in marriage should really look like. If each of you is giving 100%, everyone's needs are met and everyone is happy!

And this one from C.Jane is so good. It got me thinking: do I put a cap on David's happiness? Doesn't he have as much right to enjoy life as I do? I've got a little soul-searching--and probably some talking with him--to do.

And Mikaela, ever the ray of sunshine, says it bluntly and perfectly: Marriage does not suck!

In completely unrelated news, have you seen these famous photo recreations starring John Malkovich? The Mick Jagger one is my favorite, with Ernest Hemingway as a close second.

Also, it seems not everyone is familiar with grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is a crying shame. Go make one right now. You can thank me later.

It's going to be a busy weekend for me, between house stuff and church stuff and family stuff and the General Women's Meeting and experimenting with a peach tart recipe that I'm pretty sure will be amazing. If it is, I'll be sharing it soon. If not...I'll probably just make and eat these instead. I lead a hard life.

Happy weekend!

September 25, 2014

Marriage Month: An Interview with Sam of The Beesley Project

Today's interview is a little different because, rather than being solicited for help, Sam actually volunteered to answer my questionnaire. He noticed that my interviews were skewing heavily toward the female side and thought maybe a dude's perspective would be a good addition to the mix. And he's totally right!

Sam is one of my first internet-turned-real-life friends. He and I met via BYU's 100 Hour Board and I'm so glad we've been able to keep in touch over the years. Sam is the mastermind behind the Beesley Project. He has a remarkable mind, excellent writing skills, great taste in music, and is literally one of the funniest people I know. I snorted more than once while reading his responses here. Just wait. You'll see.

Tell us a little about your family. 
Tamsen and I met at BYU, like virtually everyone else in our peer group, although it's worth pointing out that I didn't ask her to marry me until literally the night after graduation, so I never fit the stereotype of the young married college student. (She had just finished her freshman year, so, you know, there's that stereotype.) We were married that next Christmas and almost seven years later, here we are, still married. Our daughter Edith was born about a year ago.

We're both from Oregon originally, and we got to spend two outstanding years there while I was in grad school in Eugene (ROLL DUCKS) until it was cruelly ripped away from us as a job offer came up in Tennessee. Neither of us is used to the hot and humid climate, the delicate flowers that we are, but we've made the most of it and are having fun exploring a whole new territory for us.

What made you first decide that Tamsen was "the one"?

Truth be told, I didn't really get a sense of that until after we were engaged. My previous few relationships had gone sour because I was coming on too strong about taking things to the next level by trying to have deep, profound, emotional talks about The Future and Where This Relationship Is Headed, so I resolved to play it cool when I met Tamsen. One night, I asked her if she had ever considered marriage. I did my best to make it clear that I certainly wasn't asking her to marry me, but just if she'd ever thought about it. So we both talked about it, clearly and relatively dispassionately, and we ended up falling over backward into an engagement. It didn't really feel terribly exciting, or romantic, but just sort of a natural outgrowth of the conversation.

The next morning, I woke up with one thought, and one thought only, in my head: WHAT HAVE I DONE. It wasn't that I didn't like Tamsen, but I worried that maybe I hadn't thought things through, and do I even know this woman, and I don't see no ring on this finger there's still time to get out of this. It passed, but some doubts still lingered. And then a couple of weeks later, she handed me a note in our apartment that just had a single word on it: some. Some? "Now you can tell people you got some from me," she said. My roommate, deeply impressed, asked if he could have some, too. She handed him a note, also with a single word: none.

Okay, being married to her could be pretty awesome, I thought.

Why is she still "the one"?

She makes me laugh in a way no one else can. Humor and jokes are really important to both of us, and finding someone that appreciated my sense of humor has been a blessing like nothing I could have imagined. She slipped me a note once in church, neatly folded in half. I opened it to find the words "YOU SMELL" in large, tidy print looking back at me.

She's kind, generous, loyal to her friends and family, creative, and adventurous, but it's the jokes that remind me every day that she's the one for me.

What do you love most about being married in general? What do you love most about your marriage specifically?

Being married is fantastic for tax breaks and regular access to smooches, but I think many people will agree with me when I say that the greatest thing about being married is no longer having to go on or plan first dates. Making awkward chit chat over frozen yogurt and mini golf is not a thing I miss in the slightest. Nor do I miss having to negotiate the minefield that is the doorstep scene at the end of a mediocre date. Do I give her a hug? A high-five? Fist bump? Aw man, do I have to kiss her? Nope, don't miss that a bit.

One thing I really like about our marriage is that I have someone to have meaningful conversations with. We get to have deep, engaging conversations about anything and everything without worrying about the other judging our opinions. We do the same thing while falling asleep, only those conversations tend to be infinitely more hilarious. So much so, in fact, that we kept a blog of them (http://sleepingwithsamandtamsen.blogspot.com) for a short while until I started falling asleep too quickly for us to have interesting things worth sharing anymore.

What is one of the most difficult things you've had to overcome in your marriage?

I'm a shy extrovert and Tamsen is an introvert, so meeting new people has been a challenge for us. We often end up at home evenings, each of us doing our own thing, and it can get a little lonely. We've had to make real efforts to step out of our shell to meet new people, find new things to do, or really anything at all to get us out of the rut. I think each of us had always been used to relying on others to make the first step in developing new friendships so we could slide in and get new friends, too. Now, the responsibility to break the ice is all on us. It's been hard for us, and it's still hard, but I think we're getting a little better.

What kinds of things do you do (or have you done) to strengthen your relationship?

I think we both just look for things to do for each other. She hates doing the dishes, so I wash them most nights. I hate doing laundry, so she usually does that. I think golden age musicals and girl power TV shows (looking at you, Gilmore Girls) are ridiculous, but I know Tamsen likes them, so I can sit down and watch them if I know it's going to make her happy. And she thinks sports of all kinds are a little silly, but she knows I love to watch and go to NBA games, so she'll tag along because she knows it will make me happy. We try to meet each other in the middle.

If you could give any marital advice, what would it be?

Gotta have good communication. We had some rough patches at the beginning of our marriage because things were bothering us that we wouldn't talk about. Once we learned to be open and trusting with each other, we could get past those things, or at the very least, we could realize that we had things to work on.  It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you aren't a good spouse unless you can anticipate your partner's every need and feeling. That's not realistic, and it's a huge relief to learn that it's not expected of me. If Tamsen wants a fur diamond for Christmas, she doesn't drop oblique hints about fur, or how a diamond might look nice on our shelf, she just tells me, "I would like a fur diamond for Christmas this year." And I tell her that we can't afford a fur diamond, and that she really might want to consider asking for something a little more affordable this year, like a used VHS copy of Con Air. It's all about communication.


HA! Sam and Tamsen, you guys must have so much fun together. I love it.

For me, that's the takeaway from this interview: don't take yourselves too seriously. Talk to each other, be willing to compromise, but above all else, laugh together! Every day! All the time! When it's totally inappropriate but you just don't care!

What do you think? How does Sam's perspective on marriage change your own? Or does it? Do you and your spouse have dumb inside jokes together too?

Thanks so much, Sam. You're a gentleman and a scholar.

September 24, 2014

Marriage Month: On Forgiveness

Today is my mom's birthday.* (Happy birthday Mom!) It's also Rosh Hashanah.** The only reason I know that is because I know the Jewish New Year always falls on or around her birthday. And the only reason I know that is because my mom likes to observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in her own Mormonized way. She prays, she repents, she seeks forgiveness from anyone she may have wronged, she seeks to forgive anyone against whom she holds any hard feelings, and she tries to draw nearer to God.

What strikes me most about Yom Kippur is that it is not a day of forgiving others; it is a day for seeking forgiveness for your own wrongdoings.

It's difficult to look at ourselves and acknowledge our imperfections. I don't mean how un-Pinterest-worthy our homes are, or how our nail polish is chipping, or how we fed the kids chocolate banana bread for lunch and called it good. I mean our real imperfections.

The ways we harm others through our words, actions, or even inactions.

The unmerited, unkind judgement we pass on people every day.

The little lies we tell, thinking they won't matter because they are so very little.

Sometimes I get caught up keeping a tally of ways I've been wronged. As I go over and over that list, I forget that I'm constantly making another list of mistakes I've made against others. This is especially true in my marriage. I focus on how David never puts away the comb and lotion after bathing the girls, but I always forget to rinse the dishes well before I load the dishwasher like he has asked me to a billion times. Oops.

When it comes down to it, I always have a choice. I can hold a grudge toward him for forgetting yet again, or I can put the comb away and not worry about it. I can ignore his small request, or I can apologize and try to remember to take that extra step when it's my turn to clean the kitchen. I can resent the fact that I can't control his actions, or I can try to improve my own.

I can forgive and ask forgiveness. I can do better.

We need to go to our spouses and recognize our shortcomings against them. We need to apologize and seek their forgiveness in things large and small.

I'm sorry I forgot to mail that important package today. I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier. I'm sorry I ate the last brownie. I'm sorry I keep clogging the shower with my hair. I'm sorry I returned the library book before you finished it. I'm sorry I didn't put gas in your car after I drove it the other day.

I'm sorry I didn't show trust in your parenting skills. I'm sorry I placed my friend's opinion above yours. I'm sorry I said mean things about you on the internet. I'm sorry I teased you a little too much. I'm sorry I haven't made you feel important and special lately. I'm sorry I made you cry.

I'm sorry.

We all make mistakes. We all need to forgive others and we all need to ask for their forgiveness in return.

Maybe it's time we set aside a day to reconcile ourselves with our spouses. Be humble. Acknowledge our imperfections. Apologize.

And then do better.

*It's also my sister's birthday, and while she didn't really fit into the narrative I was creating here, I didn't want to leave her out. Happy birthday Kim! Love you!

**I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Jewish faith, culture, and traditions, despite my limited knowledge thereof. If I have misrepresented them in any way, I hope you will a) correct me and b) forgive me for my ignorance.
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