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Vacation Withdrawal

caboTwo weeks ago, my husband and I went on vacation. Just the two of us.

It was a perfect, perfect time in Mexico. We spent our days eating tacos, drinking coffee, talking about theology and walking along the beach. So, it was basically the same stuff we always do, with a lot better scenery. And a lot less children.

We came home to the busyness of Easter weekend, followed by the big kids’ spring break. Two weeks ago feels like two years ago.

Guys, we have never done a vacation like that before. So I didn’t know.

I didn’t know how bad the withdrawals would be.

When I look at my pictures, I feel a nostalgic ache in my heart. When I open my cupboard and see the bag of coffee from the coffee shop we discovered, a twinge of sadness passes over me.

I unpacked my luggage (two weeks later, because I’m a stellar housekeeper). One of my shirts smelled like the aroma therapy lotion from the spa we visited and it was just TOO MUCH.

Yesterday, I was watching a TV show set in the Caribbean and the scenery… I couldn’t even handle it!

I left my heart in Cabo.

But it’s OK. We have plans to go back.

In like 10 years.

Sigh.

beach

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Shocking: My Husband’s Reaction to My Cooking

My husband isn’t what you’d call and adventurous eater.

And he’s been anti-vegetable since I’ve met him. Basically, if it was green and it wasn’t salad, it shouldn’t be on his plate.

This was extremely limiting to the cooking process. Coupled with my lack of culinary skills and I was left with about 6 recipes that we could all agree on.

And I was BORED. So, so bored.

I was so bored that I felt bitter every time I had to cook dinner again.

Through a series of unfortunate events involving a scale, Chris and I both concluded that we had to start eating healthier, and we stumbled across a plan that intrigued us. Problem was, it cut out all grains and processed sugars.

Did you know pasta is made out of grain? And tortillas are made of grain? And rice is a grain? I mean, there went ALL my recipes.

But my husband said the most beautiful, magical words to my ears, “All bets are off. I’ll eat anything.”

A blank slate! And no veggie was restricted (except artichokes, because I once sneaked them into a meal and he still hasn’t forgiven me).

As exciting as this was, I was also dreading the experiment a bit, because of past trauma with feeding Chris food he didn’t like. During an offensive meal, he didn’t talk. He just concentrated on choking down the awful food and he didn’t talk at all. Awkward silence.

So I kind of started out slow, sticking to veggies I knew he tolerated. And then I got brave and reckless.

I made roasted broccoli. And he said it was so good he could eat it every night. He took a second helping. I cried a few happy tears.

I made “spaghetti” and meatballs with zucchini noodles. He declared it delicious.

I made bacon wrapped asparagus that I didn’t even like. He loved it (OK, I did say bacon, so…).

ohmyAll this acceptance kind of went to my head. I decided to have a treat night of pancakes and my recipe had me make cinnamon apples to put on top, instead of syrup.

I thought, “Well, that will never fly.”

Chris wasn’t a big fan of anything apple related. But it looked delicious to me, so I thought maybe I could smooth things over by having real maple syrup on the side that could be drizzled over the apples to sweeten the deal.

He took a bite and exclaimed, “What did you do to the apples?”

“Nothing. Just cinnamon and butter,” I hesitantly admitted.

“They are SO good! They’re so sweet!” (By the way, these were Granny Smith apples, which probably don’t get described as “sweet” very often.)

Honestly, it’s a pretty big thrill for my less-than-skilled-cook heart to hear my husband extol my cooking. But I have to admit. The most exciting part is that the things he is enjoying are items I’d been trying to convince him to eat for years.

I win.

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In the Middle of the Night

Shocking as this may seem, there is actually something I hate more than cleaning the house.

Going to bed.

Chris is not a night owl. At about 10:30, he is just done. Like someone flipped a switch. This is kind of awful for me, because I come alive at night. My brain starts whirling and I want to do things and write things and make things and… everything!

The problem is, we’ve always BELIEVED in going to bed at the same time. When we are counseling a bride and groom-to-be, that’s the advice we dispense. And I still agree with it in concept.

But since we’re currently sharing a room with a baby, going to bed at the same time has lost it’s glossy sheen a bit. I mean, you can’t even have a whispered conversation for fear of waking someone.

So we’ve broken our own rule a couple of times recently.

Now, I won’t stay up after Chris has gone to bed to watch a movie or anything trivial like that. Mainly because then he would judge me. It’s completely mystifying to him why anyone would want to stay awake past 11 at night. But if I burn the midnight oil to do something productive, then he’s way less judgey.

Remember how I mentioned that I hate to clean the house? Our current summer-break status hasn’t been helpful to me in that area. There are just so many distractions! Loud, talkative distractions that seem to always need lunch.

So the other night, when I suggested I stay up late and get some cleaning in, Chris toned down his “I fail to see why anyone in their right mind wouldn’t want to sleep at a conventional time.”

nightCLEANINGOnce he went to bed, I put a TV show on my laptop and scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom (except inside the fridge, because that’s not a job to take on lightly). It was great! And the situation was potentially enhanced by how ALONE I was (Again, summer vacation. It’s an introvert killer.)

But I’m not going to lie, I probably cleaned the kitchen better than I ever would in the daytime. Just to avoid going to bed.

That is how much I like staying up late.

I mean, this could be a new housecleaning motivator. The procrastinator in me is awesome at doing something, anything, to put off doing the thing I hate the most. So if avoiding bedtime gets my house clean, it’s a win/win.

Except the waking up… the waking up the next morning is so hard to do.

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Husband Vs. Wife, Vacation Style

My husband and I have very different approaches to vacation.

I like no plans, no agenda, and the ability to sleep in and lay around reading. So basically, I want to relax!

He wants to do things. All the things that can possibly be done. He wants a schedule and every second maximized for ultimate productivity.

The kids? Typically, they just want to swim in the hotel pool.

Last week, we took the first actual family vacation we’d had in 6 years. The last time, the kids got diarrhea. On a road trip. So you can see why it took us awhile to try again.

But we wanted to take the big kids to Disney before they were too old to care. And we’d been promising Isaiah a visit to Legoland for years, and the “don’t care” ship had almost sailed there too.

So we scheduled a vacation to Orlando.

husbandorganizedvacationIn the weeks leading up to our trip, Chris repeatedly went over the itinerary he was planning for us. This was not so I would know what was going on. No, he was trying to wear me down by repetition, so that I would just accept the busyness.

His PLAN was no joke. He had apps to predict crowd flow and weather and wait-time on rides and who knows what all. He scheduled our Fast Passes to harmoniously coincide so that he could ride roller coasters while I took the kids on baby-safe rides.

As he went over the proposed schedule, I refused to commit to anything. I mean, how am I supposed to know how I’ll be feeling by the next Thursday and if I’m going to want to go to the beach and then back to Disney for the Electric Parade? I can let you know on Thursday. I might just want to lay around that day (That was not even an option).

So I guess we kind of compromised when we got there.

Our first day, the park opened at 9:00, so I suggested we leave the condo by 10:00. He agreed, but said, “You know this is really hard for me, right?” Because if the park opened at 9:00, he wanted to be there at 8:45.

And I just had to find ways to get my relaxing reading in, in spite of the schedule.

babysleepingvacationI’m not a huge fan of rides anyway, so as soon as the baby fell asleep in the stroller, I was like, “I’m out! Park me in some shade.”

Chris kept offering to sit with the baby so I could ride stuff. I wanted to be like, “Are you crazy?! Why would I leave my book, this bench and the shade to go stand in line in the hot sun?” But instead, I just said self-sacrificingly, “No, that’s fine. You go ahead.”

I mean, I still wouldn’t say it was exactly a restful trip. But I got a few moments in. And Chris was able to keep our itinerary organized. So we were both happy.

Of course, the kids’ favorite part (as always) was the pool at the condo. We flew all the way to Orlando so they could swim in a pool…

It might be another 6 years until the next “vacation.”

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Date Expectations

coupledateYou know dates? Like in the movies?

I’m talking about the kind where the people hold hands and gaze soulfully into each others’ eyes, while talking about feelings. Yeah. I’ve rarely had one of those.

In fact, Chris and I were already dating for a couple of weeks before we even had our first date date.

We’d been getting along fine taking walks through my apartment complex or sitting in his truck eating Wendy’s. But somehow, dinner at a fancy restaurant (we were college students, so fancy was like Mexican or something) seemed different.

I was 19 and melodramatic and so I started thinking, “We’re sitting here awkwardly, not talking. Maybe we’re incompatible. Maybe he doesn’t like me any more. Maybe we don’t have chemistry!” Chris was probably thinking nothing. Because not-talking was normal for him. I just didn’t know that at the time.

But I shouldn’t have been surprised, because my favorite fictional guys are always dark and angsty: the silent, mysterious types, with deep inner brooding.

Favorite Jane Austen hero? Mr. Darcy.
Favorite X-Man? Wolverine.
Favorite Disney prince? The Beast. (But then he had to go and turn into that annoying prince. I’m sure Belle was disappointed, although she hid it well.)

I mean, I’m not saying my husband is silent and angsty… but I do have a type. So.

What movies don’t tell you is that when you go on a date with Wolverine, he doesn’t talk a lot. In fact, if you try to get Wolverine to discuss his feelings, he actually gets a little surly. I’m just guessing about that, though.

Back to Chris and I. After lots of semi-silent dates, Chris asked me to marry him on the day before Valentine’s. Which I’m REALLY glad about. Because I hate cliché sentimentality. And it’s so hard to get a dinner reservation on actual Valentine’s.

So last night we went out to a new Mexican place to celebrate our engagement anniversary (if that’s a thing). And not much has changed since that first date. We’re still eating Mexican (although, this place was way more upscale than the little hole-in-the-wall where we started). And we we didn’t talk a lot about feelings (trust me, I tried).

But the silent, mysterious guy I’m on a date with… is my best friend. Turns out we’re very compatible. And the lack of verbose conversation is more companionable than awkward now. I mean, we actually have our best conversations while the kids are trying to shoot us with Nerf guns, anyway.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit using dates to try to talk about feelings.

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Hair (and Hard to Please People)

I’m not much of a hairstylist. French twists and french braids? Forget it (those French are tricky people). I know nothing of updos and spiral curls. What about pompadours and chignons? No idea.

So anything I do with my hair is pretty basic and never involves more than a ponytail holder or two. And maybe hairspray if I’m feeling really adventurous. But it can’t take longer than 5 minutes.

Sometimes, though, I feel guilty… like maybe I’m letting myself go. So, to find out if I’m failing, I ask Chris how he likes my hair. Generally, his replies lack information, “I don’t know. It always looks fine.”

Thanks, Babe.

He does have opinions, though. When we’re watching TV, he’ll point out a character and say, “You should do your hair like that.”

Now, we’ll set aside the obvious fact that she’s an actress and has a whole makeup crew to get her ready every day. We’ll just ignore that.

The real problem is that the hairstyles he picks out are IMPOSSIBLE for me to do.

Sometimes it’s a girl with gorgeous, stick-straight tresses. Unless I spend 3 hours with a straightener and probably some product I don’t know exists, this is never, ever going to be my lot in life.

Or it’s a lady with hair so naturally curly, she can barely get a brush through it each morning. For me to accomplish this look, I would need more unknown products and more hours with a curling iron. And it would all fall out within an hour. Or, you know… I could just get a perm.

Lately, though, Chris has gotten easier to please.

The other day I went back to bed after my shower, with semi-wet hair. When I got up again, Chris complimented my hairstyle. I had to see what this amazing look was, so it could be replicated. Well, basically it had dried into poofy-at-the-top hipster hair.

Another day, I ran a brush through my boring, normal hair and walked quickly out of the bathroom. Chris said, “I like your hair like that.” When I inquired what he especially liked about it (since it was its normal self), he said, “I liked how it was blowing back.”

I mean both these styles are super simple! I can do this!

I just have to take a nap after each shower or walk around the house really fast all the time. Piece of cake.

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On Lent and Liturgy

A friend suggested I blog about Lent. And you know, I’ve never been asked to blog about something specific before. It’s a challenge: like Truth or Dare, except I’m going to tell the truth AND take the dare.

I grew up in a very non-liturgical church culture. It was like we were so anti-tradition, that if we did something two years in a row, we got a little freaked out. Because if it wasn’t spontaneous, it wasn’t spiritual, you know?

But if that were true, we’d only read the Bible through once and then be done. So obviously, a good thing can be done more than once and still be good.

So, Lent. (If you’re all, “What is this Lent of which you speak, go read Wikipedia. They know everything.)

I think Lent could be awesome. Or it could be a waste of time. Based on your heart.

Participating in a spiritual ritual to earn God’s favor, lose some weight, fit in to the community or please your mom has about the same value as a New Years Resolution.

On the other hand, engaging in an activity that has a rich spiritual heritage and is founded in the truth of the Word can be life giving, if your heart is focused on Jesus.

What concerns me about Lent (or a 21 day fast or whatever tradition), is when we do it because we think the act itself somehow fixes us. Like it will keep us on God’s good side or whatever. That’s wrong and messed up.

It would be like if my husband and I celebrated Valentines Day to stay married. Imagine if we said, “Yeah, things have been rough lately. We haven’t actually talked in weeks and we’d rather watch TV than kiss. But when Valentines roles around, that will patch everything up.” Anyone would tell us that was crazy and we needed help.

For a marriage, Valentines can be a great reminder of our love. The holiday can give us an extra excuse to stop and enjoy each other. It can even help our hearts re-focus on our relationship. But it can’t create something that’s not there.

In the same way, liturgy can re-center our hearts on Jesus and remind us of His goodness. When it’s a tradition that comes around at the same time each year, we can look forward to a time set aside for the Lord. It’s even beneficial to engage in a spiritual discipline with other believers and grow our sense of community with the family of faith.

But if your heart isn’t focused on Jesus? Eh. You might as well just go eat that chocolate.

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Leah’s Get-Rich-Quick Plan

Chris likes to tease that my parents raised me to get married. This is mostly based on the fact that I’m completely helpless without him.

And he’s convinced Leah is headed down the same path. He might be right…

This morning she said to me:

“But Mommy, when I grow up, how will I have lots of money?”

I told her that she could get a job.

She replied, “But I don’t want to get a job.” Long pause. “I KNOW! My husband can get a job. Because girls DO NOT get jobs.”

There you go, Leah. Problem solved.

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An Open Letter to My Husband

Dear Christopher,

I’m glad we got married 9 years ago. I couldn’t live without you!

No, seriously. If you weren’t in my life, who would pay bills and figure out a budget and all that? And who would take out the garbage? (FYI, the kitchen one is a bit full.) Who would open pickle jars and fix my phone when it’s not working? Who would get the oil changed on my car? (Actually, it’s saying it needs one.)

And who would love me unconditionally? Who would listen to me ramble and never judge me for silly stuff I say? Who would do that?

Who would think I was pretty without makeup on? Who would say I smelled good when I haven’t showered?

Who would discuss theology with me and set me straight when I’m off? Who would watch silly Sci-Fi with me and like it as much as I do?

Who would be my best friend?

I love being your wife.

Hannah

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Stress and Crying and FIRE

Yesterday was one of those days.

Actually, not all day. Just the part after I picked Isaiah and Leah up from school. That part.

The kids were scheduled to go to a class at a local church later that evening, so already the stress factor was present. Because there was a TIME-LINE, you know?

Only a certain amount of minutes were available to do homework and cook dinner and dress the kids and make myself presentable and get out of the house. So it wasn’t exactly good when Isaiah announced that he had left supplies at school that he needed for a project due the next day.

But we stopped at the store, because what can you do? The library was right next door, so we had to stop there too. All of that would have been fine.

But then we did homework. Leah decided to cry because she had to write “seventeen” as 17 instead of 71. She’s still at the stage where she’s not too concerned about the order, as long as she gets all the info written down.

And then it was time to make dinner. Which started out all right, because when I placed a glass lid on a burner and then turned that burner on, I noticed quickly enough. So no harm was done.

But then a cup of water got spilled on the coffee table where we’d placed all of the library books. It was only a quarter inch of water, but do you know how much water is in a quarter inch? About a gallon. Even that was sort of OK, because it mostly missed the library books and soaked one of our own books. Which will dry eventually.

Except that just as I was getting the gallons of water wiped up, I realized that Leah was taking stickers out of a library book and putting them on a piece of paper. I told her not to worry about the ones she’d already stuck, but that she couldn’t use any more, because it wasn’t our book. She got distressed that she’d done something “bad,” so I assured her it wasn’t serious and that other kids would just take the stickers if she hadn’t. But to rectify her error, she decided it was necessary to peel the stickers off of the paper and put them back on the book’s sticker page.

Which would have been fine too, if that’s what she wanted to do. But the whole time, she wailed about how she wanted a book with stickers and the other kids were going to take these stickers. Or something. Man, little girls cry a lot.

I sent her to her room to cry it out or whatever.

Right about this time, I realized that all the while I’d been wiping up the water and trying to preserve the library book’s stickers, bacon had been frying in my pan. And it was done. And then some.

I rescued the bacon and continued with dinner prep, all to the sound of crying. And Chris came home somewhere in the middle of this.

Then I turned the wrong burner on (again) and a piece of paper towel that was on the counter by the edge of the stove lit on fire. Yes, FIRE.

I don’t know what to do about fire.

Except scream. I knew to do that. And I shoved it onto the stove, because stoves don’t burn and counters do.

My screams for help brought my husband running. When he saw flaming paper towel, he said, “Don’t just stand there!” But I hadn’t just stood there. I’d shoved it onto the stove to burn, hadn’t I? Gosh.

So he turned the burner off, because I HADN’T thought to do that (I’m not very good under pressure). And he hit it with a towel or something. While Isaiah tried to offer helpful suggestions like, “Water! Water!”

My husband saved the day (Well, he saved the moment anyway. I think the day was a little far gone at this point.)

We finally sat down to dinner. Leah’s face was still flushed from her tears and the smell of burnt bacon lingered in the air. Isaiah cheerily announced:

“At class tonight, when they do that prayer request time, I’m going to say, ‘that the fire thing would never happen again.'”

Um, yes Son. We’d prefer it to never happen again. But the truth is, it’s actually the second time I’ve lit paper towel on fire via a stove top burner… so the odds aren’t good. Maybe he’s right to ask for prayer about that one.

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