Monday, June 22, 2015

Where We're Going (a Father's Day post)

Loveys, how are you? I hope all the good dads out there have had a wonderful Father's day. We spent the weekend up in the mountains for Jeff's work regional meetings and today was our last day. After an excellent breakfast (with a gorgeous view), we headed home. So our day was spent driving through the Rocky Mountains and it was pretty spectacular. We took the scenic route because on our way up the mountains, we hit craze-inducing traffic and didn't want to go through that again. However, Jeff somehow forgot that I get really car sick when we drive up and down and around and around. This makes for a very unpleasant time. I drove for about twenty minutes before Jeff sweetly let me know that we have to save the brakes a little or they might go out altogether. SO, with that terrifying thought, I got back in the backseat with the kids and let him drive again.

It was a very long day. Still, a good weekend overall. There are always moments when the kids (or the parents) have meltdowns. There are always moments when everyone gets hungry or tired or fussy. That's okay. We're far enough in this to know that you take the fabulous moments with the regular moments, and in the end, it's a picture of your life and you're thankful.

In fact, there was this one particular moment this weekend that I can't stop smiling over. The kids got goody bags at one of the dinners. Linc found a pair of goggles in his bag and begged me to open them. He wore them the rest of the night and again the next morning. That next morning, I was sitting on one of the beds, feeding Lily a bottle and I just looked at my adorable son, wearing his goggles while watching cartoons. And I had a flashback. To a moment in another hotel room, a really long time ago.

Let me share.

I'm smiling again.

So that top picture is of the guy I'd just gotten married to. :) Yep. That's the Jeffster on our honeymoon in Hawaii twelve years ago. I know exactly how I was feeling when I saw that guy, wearing that mask just to make me laugh and because he's adorable. I was a very happy newlywed.

Fast forward more than twelve years later.

I couldn't have known where we'd be. That day in Hawaii, as a young 23-year-old woman, I couldn't have known where we'd end up. I only knew we were off to a good start. I had no idea that one day I'd be sitting in a hotel room up near Aspen, Colorado, feeding my three-month-old, staring at my three-and-a-half year old who's, in that moment, reminding me of that guy I married.

You just never know where the journey will take you.

I'm 35 years old, lovey, looking back at the life of 23-year-old me--wanting to just whisper to that girl, Every moment on the journey is worth it.

Some days are harder than others. Some days are blissfully perfect. And some moments collide in your heart--like the photo above.

It's a busy, full life and I can't say now where we'll be in twelve more years. Who knows but God? I know where I hope we'll be. Taking Ashtyn to college, teaching Lincoln how to drive, getting Lily's ears pierced, holding hands with Jeff and thinking, It goes so fast and it's so beautiful.

We're home now and there are more dishes to wash, bottles to feed, bubbles to play with outside--it's a normal summer day for the Bruce family. My mother-in-law is coming to visit soon and the kids are so excited--things to get ready for. 

There's no way to really know where we'll be down the road. But I know who I want to be, and I know who I want to be with.

That's enough to go on.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Staying Golden

You know those moms who, if their child forgets his or her lunch at home, she doesn't bring them another one because 'they need to learn about consequences' and such? (I'm not being mean about those moms, FYI.) I'm just not one of those moms. And I think it's good for us to know who we are and who we're not and to be comfortable in our own skin. Jeff and I run a pretty easy household. I thought about that this afternoon. We'd just had lunch and I was eating a cookie (a s'more flavored cookie, loveys. A new level of awesome that you find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store). Anyway, I'm having one, and Ashtyn comes over to me and asks shyly, "Can I have a cookie, Mama?" I kissed her and smiled and said, "Of course." Like I'm going to say no. We say yes way more than we say no at our house. And cookies and ice pops and Capri Suns are part of my kids' daily life. (Or Ashtyn's really--except for the Capri Sun. She only wants water! Linc just so happens not to be a big dessert person. Now if we're talking grape juice or chocolate milk--he'd live on those two things if I'd let him.) It's not a big deal to me. I was trying to think of what would have happened if I'd forgotten my lunch at home while growing up. Then I realized that my dad would have just swung over to Sonic in his patrol car and picked up a brown bag lunch for me and all would have been fine with the world again. I grew up in an easy home too.

I know some kids grow up in more disciplined, strict homes. Their parents are very intentional about what their kids are allowed to eat or how much screen time they get. And, to be honest, I've felt a bit of the disapproval of other moms when it comes to my kids watching lots of cartoons and eating whatever I happen to have around at the time--or, gasp, doing both at the same time.

I don't care. I like easy. I like a relaxed atmosphere. I like how I grew up. I like the feeling in my home with my family. I love my kids past the point of obsession, and so does Jeff. I love that Ashtyn is awesome and sweet and funny and slightly afraid of everything and fiercely protective of her brother and she thinks dessert ought to follow breakfast and lunch and every meal. I love that Lincoln is the cutest thing ever and he's super quick to say I'm sorry (a thousand times a day, which is how often he makes me nuts). I love that even though my kids are afraid of lots of things, they are never afraid of me and Jeff. Because they know they are adored. Home is their favorite place. When Ash was little and would get hurt somehow, she'd come crying to me and say something like, "Look what happened to my precious foot!"

Seriously. Because every inch of her is precious and valuable to me and she knows it.

Every family has their own way of doing things and that's totally okay. And so many ways work well. Some do not. It truly breaks my heart to think of kids afraid in their own home. Or their every movement controlled by someone else. Kids who hear no all the time.

It's summertime. And I was feeling a bit frustrated that time is slipping by and we haven't done all that much since school let out. Then Jeff reminded me that we don't have to. Our house was a new-build when we moved in about ten months ago. We didn't pay to have the backyard done at that time, so the plan was always that we'd get it done in time for summer. Jeff has spent the past six weeks working back there to get it ready for the kids. (He's really such an amazing dad!) He's been working so hard so our kids could run out the back door and have all kinds of fun in our backyard. Without having to go anywhere. That's the summer I wanted! Lazy mornings with breakfast and pajamas and cartoons. Playtime in the backyard so I don't have to cart all three kids anywhere (which gives me major anxiety). Popsicles in the afternoon. Peppa Pig when Linc gets too tired and needs to rest. I'm still adjusting to life with three kiddos (though I already cannot even imagine not having Lily! Jeff says the same thing). We need an easy summer. I need an easy summer.

My sister Laura is getting married in the fall. This weekend Father of the Bride Parts 1 and 2 were on TV. Which basically means I was weeping while I watched them. Seriously. Watch this and tell me you aren't crying.


The truth is, when this movie first came out I watched it a million times. I watched it the year I was getting married too, and I can't watch this particular scene without crying. Watching it this time, however, I was emotional in a different way. Thinking of Laura, of course, makes it tug at my heart strings. But then I thought of Ashtyn. Now I'm the mom and that's my little girl. And you know what struck me, how parents go back in their minds to those days when their kids are small. It's sort of like the golden years. They go quick and you can't get them back and you treasure them forever.

That's where I'm living. And it's good to be reminded. So waking up and making over-easy eggs and watching the kids play outside while I'm holding Lily--this is right where I want to be. And this life Jeff and I are building together--through good days and bad days and perfect moments and not-so-perfect moments and chocolate milk and cheese pizza and nights where I catch Jeff tearing up while watching Big Hero 6--that's where I live. We can do it how we want. These are the days we'll want to remember forever.

It's your summer too, loveys. Do it how you want. Make it golden and beautiful. Say yes.
Sunday, May 31, 2015

Being Married

Loveys, this is a marriage post.

I can only speak for my own experience as a wife, but sometimes being married is like being on a rollercoaster. That steady climb of anticipation. The crazy ups and downs. The unforeseen drops. The moment when everything stops and then you go backward. The loop that throws you.

Maybe for some, it's more of a steady stream, a few small dips in the river perhaps, but mostly, just floating along peacefully. That sounds nice.

For the Jeffster and myself, we've had the rollercoaster one. You know that feeling at the start of a rollercoaster? Excitement? Thrill? Fear? Those are the emotions back at the beginning of your relationship. When everything is new and amazing and your senses are heightened. It's wonderful really. You feel so alive. (And it's worth savoring because while the ride may always be good, it will never be quite like that again. And it's okay. It's called falling in love. Then comes staying in love.) Then you take the plunge and you're thrown right and left and up and down, and you're just trying to hold on. That can be a lot like marriage too.

The other night, Jeff and I and the kids were in the kitchen. There was all the usual chaos going on. Lily's in the bouncer up on the island, the kids are talking nonstop. I'm thinking that I'm running low on sodas. (The truth is that my addiction to diet soda is very real, loveys. You know this. It's been going on since college and it's still happening for this chick.) Anyway, I had just been to the grocery store the day before and bought a ton of stuff. And I want to scream because this was like the third time I'd been to the store and AGAIN I forgot trash bags. For the record, yes, I usually make a list but I don't always look at it and I've been known to often forget said list at home. So amid the chaos, I say to Jeff, "I need you to go to the store and get trash bags. I forgot again!"

"Anything else?" Jeff asks. I bite my lip. I'm still super annoyed I forgot trash bags, but now I'm thinking that if he's going to the store he might as well get me diet soda because I'll go through the ones I have the way my sister goes through Stride gum.

"Well," I begin. He looks over at me.

"Don't kill me, but could you get me more diet Dr. Peppers too?"

Jeff just stops and smiles at me. It was kind of an emotion-filled smile, which stopped me for a moment because I wasn't expecting it. And then he says to me: "Bran, that's one of those things I'd miss the most about you. Yes, I'll get you more sodas."

And then it was over and he was doing something else, and I'm still thinking about it days later. All right, I'm almost crying over it.

Because he means it. And I mean it. And being married isn't always easy. We've had those rollercoaster moments when everything stopped and we were jerked backward. We've had those flip-you-upside-down moments that I really hate and that come when you least expect them.

We've also had those exhilarating moments when you both feel like throwing your hands in the air and you can't stop smiling because this ride is all you wanted and more. 

There are experiences you go through during marriage that change you. In some form or another, I think this happens to everyone. Jeff losing his dad was one of those for us. For him. Something that you never quite get over, but you learn to live through. This can look like a lot of different things for people. The struggle is the same though. Grappling with pain or loss (even a loss of expectations or loss of trust could count here) changes the dynamic of who you are and who you are as a couple. Again, marriage isn't always easy. Sometimes it doesn't last. That's just reality and you thank God that he's with you even if you find yourself in Plan B.

Do you know what kind of marriage you want? For my own experience, my marriage is such a huge part of my life that when something's not working, everything just falls apart.

I know what kind of marriage I want. Love. Respect. Passion. Romance. Tolerance. Conversation. I want those things and I need them in order to be happy. I can live without them, I suppose, but not very happily. Truthfully, we all know what it feels like not to have them. Because no matter what, every marriage has its days.

I thought about what Jeff said to me in the kitchen, and the next night, I told him how much I appreciated it. Then I told him something I would really miss about him. And I could see that my words affected him, just as his words had affected me.



This is for you. This is for me.

We sat next to each other in church today (for a little while, before Ashtyn squeezed between us). Jeff reached over to hold my hand. We could just sit there next to each other. Still loving each other. Still being married.

Or we could hold hands.

I pick holding hands.

Jeff could have just said yes, that he would get me sodas at the store. Or he could go the extra mile and make me feel loved.

It makes all the difference.

I could brush off what he said. Or I can let it fill me up and give back the same gift.

Go the extra mile, lovey. It makes the ride better.

There are very hard moments in marriage. I know this to be true.

Then there are moments when the boy says something to me while we're standing in the kitchen, and I feel like crying because I'm lucky. Because he loves me and I love him.