laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

As Much As Humanly Possible


Last year at this time, I was working on completing the “Love Dare” out of the movie Fireproof. Not because my marriage was over. But because it was in need of maintenance. Mainly preventative. (All marriages, as all relationships, need continual maintenance.) Actually, I’d decided I would do it on my whole family. I’d decided to go through the study for Lent. I’d thought it would be a good thing to do yearly, but as Lent came around this year, I didn’t really feel it necessary. I think I just didn’t want to have to DO it. Last year, it took me longer than the 40 days to finish, because I made sure that my heart accompanied my eyes along with each page, and each lesson. Sometimes each day’s readings and challenges would take me numerous days to complete. The last week I have been overtired, and it’s leaving me overly emotional. By the end of the day I’m so tired that every time I feel a body jump on me, or arms grab my hands away from what I need to be doing to coerce them into doing what they want to do… it’s all I can do not to just run to the bathroom and lock the door. I’m sure it has a good deal to do with it being the end of winter, the time of year everyone’s chomping at the bit to enjoy some sunshine and warmth, while still being trapped indoors. I had a conversation with hubbyman the other day where he said mentioned he thinks he has grown to be more patient, as a husband and a father. And I agreed; he has. I replied with, I think I’ve gotten more impatient. And, sadly, he agreed.

And then my tablet, my e-reader, my device with my Love Dare on it has died. I haven’t officially started it again (I could just download a kindle to my computer and do it there), but I may do a summary. Or I may just put on my big girl panties and do it.

I’ve been rereading some of my first posts, from last year. And as I read through some of the ones I wrote during the time I first started The Love Dare, this one struck me the most. So instead of trying to find another way to say what I’ve already said, I’m just going to include some parts that I feel show the truth of my heart.

I have a confession… while in general, I love big, give freely, and have so much empathy that it’s almost a problem… sometimes I get spent. I forget to do things just for me, or to at least take a “time out” myself. And then I become…selfish. (*insert collective gasp here*) I know, right?! It’s awful and I’m not proud of it. It is, however, true. I start to feel taken for granted which leads to feelings of discontentment. And discontentment (for me) breeds anger. In the midst of my feelings I get so caught up in how things are affecting me that I fail to see the effect I’m having on my family. And lately I’ve been a bit caught up in this cycle. Because my daily life is so entirely about “the little things,” My days pretty much revolve around the dishes, the laundry, the meals…and I can very easily get caught up in the feelings of I do it all and nobody cares. Which if I were to be introspective at all, would leave me admitting that I’m really feeling inconsequential. Instead, I stick with anger. Like a long lost friend, there is some strange sort of comfort in being angry. It’s such a familial-feeling friend to fall in with. It whispers in your ear, “You deserve some appreciation, way more than you’re getting. Nobody else does what you want. You’re always doing what they want…” You know anger and anger knows you. This cycle has a lot to do with why I started the Love Dare to begin with. As old of a friend as anger is, I’d like to get reacquainted with some others, like the patience and kindness I’ve been saying I’m working on.

And so the dare continues and I read and I do what it says, but I’m not sure I’ve actually been working on my patience…or my kindness. Maybe on the surface, but not so much in the heart. In fact, I found myself growing MORE angry. And the more I read and the more the lessons said, “you may be feeling this way… try choosing to behave like this…” the more angry I felt. What if my anger is valid? (insert thought bubble: of course my anger is valid!) What if I had some major injustice done to me? (insert thought bubble: of course I’m justified in my feelings!) Surely this justifies some anger and discontent. Nonetheless, I kept reading and then came…maybe day 8? It talked about two rooms. One is where we put the praises of those we care for (spouse, children, friends, etc and the wonderful things they’ve done and said to/for/about us and our positive feelings about them) and the other is where we put the negatives (he said, “blah, blah, blah…” she said, “blah, blah, blah…” they did this to me, they said that to me…) And while compartmentalizing some things can be healthy…moving into a room of discontentment, of course, isn’t. The day’s pages were filled with things like, when you spend a lot of time in this room you may go there to pick your fights, to be reminded of why you’re mad, even to prepare yourself for battle. And I have to admit, I do this. I go over the list of transgressions that I’m so worked up over and prepare what I would say, or what I think I should say, or what I feel is deserved to be said… over and over. It can become compulsive, even. Yuck. And can I just say it’s a little bit maddening when the very thing (the day’s love dare lesson) that’s making me mad, totally has me pegged. Crap. But just to show it who’s boss I thought I’d wait a couple days before acknowledging that the words on the pages were real in my heart. Ridiculous, right?! Of course it is, but it’s honest.

And so I confessed some of the feelings of my heart to my husband. And instead of the dialogue I’d perfected in my head, back in that room, I found the opposite taking place. Instead of my anger spewing forth, my insecurities, my fears, and my real emotions came out in a way that was open, honest, and non-accusatory (maybe some of those lessons were sinking in after all!). And my husband…instead of the words my head had heard him responding with, well, he responded in…SHOCK. He had NO IDEA that I was feeling the way I was feeling. It turns out the anger I’d been carefully polishing and protecting, like a prized trophy, is hard to hold on to when someone is so surprised by the fact that you don’t think everything is wonderful, because THEY are really thinking things are (truly) wonderful, and that I knew how wonderful he thought it all was. I mean, it’s almost laughable. Here I was, stewing in the discontentment that I was sewing into my own life… and there was my husband, looking at me with eyes that spoke volumes of love, compassion, and concern…along with some confusion. And of course, the negativity began to fall away… and so here I am sitting in another room. A room with warm, compassionate, thankful words on the walls. Walls that show examples of my children having patience with me. Words that show my husband making an effort to let me know he appreciate all the little things he does. Words and memories of all the wonderful, thoughtful things my family and friends do and have done. Some, even on a regular basis. So while I’m fighting the urge to roll my eyes at the sappy, corniness of some of the things this room has to say… I am humbled and appreciative that I have all these things to say about those that are closest to my heart. And I’m reminded of a phrase I was often told growing up, and have often repeated, “You cannot change others, you can only change yourself.” And while any life is going to have ups and downs and cycles that are forever repeated, today I am CHOOSING to think positive thoughts about those around me along with myself. I work hard to keep everyone clean, clothed, fed, and happy. Hubbyman works hard to provide the means for all of that. And the kids work hard to be…kids! Learning and living, and really, trying to be good. And while it may not be true of everyone, today I am going to CHOSE to be motivated with kindness and patience towards everyone I come in contact with.

I cannot promise that I have already let go of all the emotions and moved myself back into that room (you know, the good one). I can tell you, that I am clinging to those truths, and that outlook. We all have things in our lives, whether big problems, or small children, that get the best of us. And in the end, it’s our decision how we move forward. Our decision. Our choice. Our life. When I stop and let all those things fall into their proper places, letting the lessons take hold, only then can I really see the bigger picture. The picture where someday I will look back at the trivialness of arguing over who did the dishes, and wish longingly for the chubby little hands I once held to encircle my neck once more. The picture were I have a life well lived, and a life well-loved. A life I hope to continue living with intention. Treating those I love in a way I would always intend to, at least as much as humanly possible.

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Imperfect Perfection


There are currently two friends of mine that are in some part of the divorce process. It’s heartbreaking, truly. I’m not going into the details behind it, but just know that these are two wonderful women who deserve to be happy and loved, and I truly hope they know that. After an e-mail from one, something she said resonated with me (after divulging that *gasp* yes, even my marriage has had times where it’s really not easy), about wishing to be more like other couples, happy couples. The truth is, ALL couples have at least one point in their marriage of something, some words, some…times that could either make or break the relationship. I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a happy couple! I believe I’m part of a happy couple-ship… at least most days. What I am saying is that it’s real life. Just like anything else in real life marriage, and relationships of all forms (whether it’s a boyfriend, a sister, a best friend) has ups and downs. It’s messy, it’s work, it’s time consuming, emotion consuming…it’s real. And it’s also worthwhile. I am not saying this to say divorce is evil or that you have to stay married no matter what...this is really not about that. This is just about the work of staying married, or staying in any relationship for that matter.

While I know I’ve talked about how if hubbyman and I didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all, it’s not entirely true (and we don’t wholeheartedly believe that we have bad luck, either. Just so you know.). We have been fortunate in each other. I was fortunate enough to have married my long-time friend, and the first boy I ever kissed. (read about that here) For a shy, insecure girl, with major trust issues…this was key. As of this month, I’ve known my husband for half of my life (*sigh I’m getting so old!*). That said, I can see how you would think with all that time, and friendship, and blah, blah blah… that it would be easy, that we’d know each other so well that we’d always finish each other’s sentences, always a step ahead because we know what’s coming, and things like that. While I will admit to usually knowing the “where is *insert random item*?” question before it’s even asked, and that I can always know exactly where he left anything (even though I can never remember where I set my glasses, or my phone), even if I didn’t see him leave it… we actually can’t read each other’s minds. While certainly know exactly where and which buttons to press, we often still need specific directions on how to fix it after said buttons have been pushed. We know each other very well, and yet he still leaves his laundry everywhere, even though he knows I’ve gotten a million laundry baskets for him to throw it in. And I still set dishes in the sink, instead of on the counter, even though that makes him roll his eyes the way the trail of his clothes does to me. It’s real life.

I could, of course, tell you, we’re perfect for each other, grow more in love every single day, that we hardly ever say a negative word to each other, and that it just comes easy for us. But that wouldn’t be completely honest, and seriously, who wants to read about how everything’s perfect (and therefore better than everyone else!)? Nobody. Because we all know that’s not real life. In real life we do things that can have negative consequences, we say things that we can’t take back, and we think things we’d never admit to out loud. It’s hard, it’s sad, sometimes even heartbreaking, but it’s real. And it can also be wonderful.

I did the Love Dare a few months ago, and granted I didn’t do it in the 40 days they prescribe, but I wanted to make sure that I meant every thing they challenged us to do. And sometimes it would take a while before I was ready to put my big girl pants on and follow through. I didn’t do it to save my marriage from imminent danger.  I did it to maintain my marriage. So that should a day arise when we feel like we’re at a crossroads… well, I’ll have some tools to work my way through. I feel like it gave me a fresh perspective, of my husband and of marriage. And it helped us to talk through some things. Like how easily I forget things, without making the decision to forgive, first. Truly. I know the adage is “I forgive, but I don’t forget.” I’m completely opposite. I can go to sleep just fuming, but I wake up and I’ve forgotten how mad I was and move on until something makes me remember and I’m mad all over, because while my brain had forgotten the incident, my heart hadn’t forgiven.

And I also don’t follow the “never let the sun set on your anger” one either… because sometimes, you just need some time and space. So that things aren’t said that you can’t take back. We do, however, have a rule that we always kiss goodnight. No matter what. So while we may be going to bed without fully resolving whatever issue was at hand, we are still connecting in a way that tells each other, “I love you and I am committed to you, even though I’d rather be anywhere but right next to you at the moment.” And for us that works. In our going-on-7-years marriage, I can count the times where we have gone to bed without doing that. At least the times where we’ve forgone it intentionally. I’m not counting the times we were apart or the times we’ve fallen asleep putting the kids to bed… just the times where we purposely did not kiss each other. Really. We may not always feel like kissing, much less talking to the other, but we do it anyways. For for us, that small action, is very important. And so when he finally wakes up, from falling asleep reading to the kids, and climbs into bed…and gives me a kiss, well, to me, it’s a big piece of what makes our crazy, messy, loud, busy, imperfect life my kind of perfection

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We’re expecting


As I sat out on my deck enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday, I couldn’t help but thinking, I’m going to cry if it snows again. Leave it to my husband to burst my bubble, but… we’re supposed to have snow this weekend (Ok, so he didn’t choose this weather, but because he informed me, that really becomes a moot point.). And I really may cry if we do see snow. We have, after all, had snow since October.

Anyways, this had me thinking about expectations… we expect spring to follow suit and spring into summer, but here that is not always the case.  It likes to dabble it’s way in and out until we’re in full meltdown, and then it’s winter again. Aren’t there many things in life this can relate to? We have expectations about so many things, both realistic and unrealistically. Like the expectation so many have that you’re going to live happily ever after, because you have found the one. My brother is getting married in less than a month and he and his fiancée spent the weekend with us, which also got me thinking about expectations. There was a little squabble about him not being willing enough to continue helping with the projects that are of course leaving this soon-to-be-bride a little frantic. Erik and I laughed and said, You think it’s hard now, just wait. (We’re so encouraging, right?) And we both reiterated that the first year or two or three… are spent learning each other in ways you maybe thought you already knew. And most importantly, you will learn how to fight with each other. I don’t mean you’ll learn how to defeat each other with one fell swoop (although you will learn which button to push to do just that). What I mean is that you will learn the way each other fights (this was a point from our pre-marital counselling that really was so helpful to us). You may learn that he needs to work issues out immediately or that she really needs to be given some space before being able to talk through an issue. Either way, you learn, and you adjust.

What does this have to do with expectations? Well, we expect things to be easy, we expect to continuously feel love, we expect to always feel/work/live/love as we do now. Unfortunately, what people often fail to take into consideration is this simple fact: Life does not just happen. We make choices. I think what it all boils down to, and what much of the last weeks’ Love Dare has been talking about, is that we can choose. We can expect the worst or expect the best, but if we’re not actively choosing the best, we’re not going to get it. Expectations are not the enemy, lack of choosing to pursue them, is. Especially in our relationships. As most newlyweds/new relationships of any kind (whether dating or friendships) you have this rush, this glow that you may feel defines your relationship and surely you will always get butterflies whenever you see them. I’m not saying you can’t have a great relationship throughout the years, what I am saying is that you have to actively pursue that. Because even though I have known my husband for hundreds of years (ok not that long, but 1/2 of my life! That’s gotta count for something!) he cannot read my mind! No matter how badly I want him to. He knows everything about me, all my secrets, all my fears, hopes, and dreams… and yet he cannot read my mind! And your other half can’t either. No matter how many sentences you can finish, no matter how many times you find the thing they were looking for (before they asked for it), no matter how much you can convey through looking at each other… Because he cannot read my mind, and because I often don’t speak what’s on it…we run into problems. And sometimes that leads me to days where I don’t particularly enjoy being his wife. And I think I can say with some authority, that on those days, he’s probably not enjoying being my husband either. But we choose to continue to be. Year five of our marriage was a bit tumultuous for us, as individuals we’ve had hard things emotionally and physically, and as a couple we’ve struggled between how to be a loving couple while working and raising children, very young and close in age children. And on the days that we weren’t really feeling like being active participants in this marriage, we choose to do it anyways. We chose to kiss each other goodnight, good-morning, and goodbye every day, even when we don’t really feel like it. Which is why, as we’re gaining on year 7… we’re not itching (you know, the 7 year itch). In fact, because we CHOSE to push our way through, to love our way through, to pray our way through…we are probably in the best place of our marriage, thus far. We are leaning on each other more, we trying to voice our feelings (especially the good ones) more, and we’re loving more thoroughly. But it is not by accident.

We believe in living with intention, and not just in our food. In our lives too- in our parenting, in our interactions with each other and with those around us, and in the way we love and show love. We don’t just believe in living that way, we practice it. It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but it is why I have the expectation that we’ll continue living and loving together as a family for as long as God allows.

 

Better Than Expectations Pizza

I know I mentioned previously doing pizza fridays (and I still really want to do that!) but because it was so good, I’m going to share this recipe with you now, on a plain old Wednesday! Friday I’m going out to buy an adapter for this stupid camera! So maybe Pizza Friday will be pictures! Anyways, the hubs texted me a couple weeks ago saying Buffalo Chicken Pizza sounded good. We’ve never had one before or made one, so I did what I do when something sounds good that I haven’t made before… I google as many recipes as I can. And then I make something completely different! Here is what I made:

Super Yummy Pizza Crust (Makes 2 small pizzas- fed four)

  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 3 tbs dried milk powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 tsp cinder vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray sheet for easiest crust removal. Combine flours, dried milk, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum. In a separate bowl, whisk the water, oil, and vinegar. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flours, mixing slowly with a spatula until it is a smooth and soft, that just holds its shape (more than pancake batter but less than cookie dough). Transfer about 1/3 of the dough to a pastry bag, or resealable bag (what I used) with one corner snipped off. Divide remaining dough between the two pans, spreading it thinly with a spatula- about 7inch rounds. Pipe a raised, “rim” around the edge of each one. *Brush all over with egg white (1 egg white, lightly beaten) to help sealing and browning. Bake until puffed and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Cover with pizza toppings, return to oven for another minutes, or until bubbling hot.

*This crust was SO good! I think next time I make it I will double the recipe to make bigger, and a little thicker crusts.

Flying Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 cups of chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or whatever your favorite hot sauce is)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp buttermilk ranch seasoning
  • Shredded Cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

While pizza dough/crust is in the oven (you can of course buy or make whatever kind of crust you like best), I do the topping: cook chicken over medium-high heat. When a little over halfway cooked, add in hot sauce. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly.

My husband isn’t a big fan of blue cheese, but you could always do the “sauce” with a blue cheese dressing, or ranch dressing from bottles. You could also use the hot sauce as the pizza sauce if you wanted a stronger taste/flavor and then have something for dipping. I make my own sauce:

Combine butter, flour, milk, ranch seasoning (the only mix I could find that is MSG and food coloring free!) in saucepan over med. heat. Boil two minutes, stirring frequently. If seems too thick add milk (by the tsp) if it’s not thick enough add flour/starch (by pinches).

Spread sauce on crust (as much or as little as you want), spread chicken generously over pizza and cover in as much, or as little, cheese as you like.

Stick back in the oven for about 7 more minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and bubbling.

Enjoy! I’m not a big “buffalo” flavor lover, but this was really good- we’ll definitely be making it again!

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The Snotty Mommy Brigades


Ok, so I’m going to say this thing that I’m probably not supposed to say, you know, because I am one, but… Some moms make me roll my eyes and think, No wonder some (of course, not all) women without children have a hard time with those that do. Yesterday marked the official opening of spring for me- we had our first trip to the playground (Which thankfully is only about two blocks away!). And it was there I came face to face with the enemy. The Snotty Mommy Brigade. Ok, maybe they’re not the enemy, but they’re certainly not on my list of friends. The Snotty Mommies are women who have children, think that theirs are better, or yours are worse (or something like that). They give out calloused insults under the pretense of a compliment. (“I would never let my child go out in public wearing an outfit like that, my aren’t you brave.”) These women are harder to get in with than that uber expensive preschool in the city, with the 2 year long waiting list. And have a longer list of prerequisites than Harvard. I know you know the ones. They roll their eyes at the other moms trying to push their way through a door at the zoo, with a baby in one arm and a stroller in another, without bothering to help. But when the situation is reversed they order you to open the door for them. (I can’t help but roll my eyes and growl a little just thinking about it!) And it’s not just comprised of moms, there are some grandparents, some fathers, some with children/grandchildren, and some without. There are some women without children that have climbed aboard this bandwagon as well. Women who have forgotten to picture what life is like in someone else’s stilettos. Or flip flops.

They have no patience for children behaving like children, which let’s face it, even the best behaved, well-disciplined children, still behave like children. I know that no one wants to hear kids screaming and yelling and throwing a temper tantrum…ever. No mother does either. And father’s enjoy it even less. But just like I’m going to try and give you the benefit of the doubt when you roll your eyes at my kid (maybe it’s because you’d really like to be throwing a temper tantrum after the day you’ve had), please give me (and my child too) the same courtesy. Know that I try not to take them out when they’re at their hungriest, tiredest, crankiest… but sometimes it is just unavoidable. That’s the thing with the SMB (Snotty Mommy Brigade), they offer no support for a new mom, or even veteran mom, who’s running on little sleep and dealing with a child, or multiple children, who are hungry and tired. No support, only judgement. They are the Snotty Mommy Brigade. And sometimes it really does feel like they’re the enemy, raging war on us.

Then there’s The Real Mommy Brigade. It is not comprised solely of moms helping out other moms. It is the babysitting grandma’s, the caring aunts, the attentive girlfriends, grandfathers, fathers, and uncles too! Maybe a reason I didn’t expound too much on the women without children that are a part of the Snotty Mommy Brigade, is because my friends (both married and unmarried, women and men alike) are so not a part of that. They are women, and men, who are supportive, loving, and caring. And not just to me, to my children too. One of my girlfriends, who I like to refer to as my Happy Hour Mistresses, doesn’t mind running errands with me, and the kids. And she’s helpful with them, and laughs at their antics. And doesn’t freak out when I tell my biggest boy that if he doesn’t start behaving I’m going to send him home with her. Another just bought a boat with her husband, and as she was saying, I hope you’re ready for your kids to go boating and learn how to water ski… and all I could think was, thank God she is a part of my Mommy Brigade! And her husband too! They are GREAT with our kids (in fact, we love their whole family!). In fact, they are so accepting of our parenthood (instead of holding it against us like some of our “friends” that are really a part of the Snotty Mommy Brigade), that they don’t mind our “adult night” being a childfree dinner at their house, then taking the party to our house to put the kids to bed and then enjoy drinks and games while they sleep! (Did I mention, we love them?!) I do not believe that just because a couple, or a single, does not have children equates with them not liking children. And while, most of my friends still, of course, have time to contemplate their own parenthood, I am thankful for their willingness to be involved in mine. They are what get me through. They are what gets our family through.

The women at the park who told their children not to play with mine because they had “their real friends to play with,” they are not on my team. And I would never want someone like that on my team, taking swipes at me even from the sidelines. I am blessed and so thankful for my family, friends, and especially my Happy Hour Mistresses (because let’s face it, sometimes Mommy needs a time-out too!), who are on the front lines with me. And because I’m asking you to show a little grace, you little SMBrigader you, and because I’m still on that stinkin’ Love Dare (can you tell that I’m facing a challenging part right now?), I will show you grace as well. So even after you’ve instructed them not to play with my kids, I will give you directions when you’re having trouble telling another of your friends how to Community Center (that you can see from the playground). I will show my children what kindness looks like. I will show you what kindness looks like. Even when you tell your friend “This woman is telling me that I said the wrong street…No, of course I didn’t ask her…”  And when my daughter loudly says, Mom, I don’t like that lady. She is not a nice lady.I refrain from telling her that I agree. (But oh, how I agree. And want to say -equally as loudly- No, she’s not nice and I don’t like her either.) Instead I look at her children, who are watching this brief exchange, and I offer this to my girl, “Sometimes people say things that don’t sound very nice, but they may not mean for it to sound that way. And it’s really not very nice for us to talk about someone else either. It might not sound very nice to them.

And then I walk off, with littlest E sleeping, wrapped to my chest, calling the big Es to follow me, on an adventure into “the jungle” (a path in the woods)… they come following hand-in-hand, but just before they’re out of the SMB’s hearing biggest E says, “Those kids might not think their mommy was nice.” And middle E responds with, “Yeah, not like our mommy. She is nice. She really is.” ♥ And just for a moment the not-so-nice-mommy and I meet eyes, and in that moment something passes between us, and we know which mommy won today’s Battle of the Brigades.


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