When You're Weary...

Loveys, how are you? I've been tired this week. And it's only Wednesday! This morning I woke up feeling weary of a lot of things. I'm thinking the constant onslaught of all things political on the news and online and through social media is starting to drain me emotionally. Do you feel that?

(Don't worry, loveys, I'm in no way going to bash one candidate over another or attempt to make people feel stupid for choosing a different candidate than I'm choosing or basically judge everyone for not thinking exactly as I do--good grief, I'm exhausted of feeling that everywhere I turn.)

I've avoided talking politics online and in my relationships (other than with a few close friends who I know to be the kind of people you can talk with, without breaking a friendship over differences). Though the other day, I did have a good email exchange with a high-profile, best-selling author regarding politics (I've read so many of her books, and seen the movies based on her books, but have never met her before now!), and it was refreshing to be able to go back and forth with opinions respectfully. That was a surprising and super cool experience. I emailed her after reading something she said about wanting to discuss opinions and how she couldn't understand how people could vote for the opposite of who she's voting for. When I read that, I felt sad. Because shouldn't we try to understand the other side? Are we unable to hear a different perspective and understand it? She and I had a really good conversation. 

Anyway, when I checked Facebook this morning though, I just stared blankly at the many articles posted again, and I felt tired and just clicked off of it. November is still a little ways away, I don't think I can read more daily articles. I check the online news sites every day (I get my news way more from the internet than television) and I'm so tired of seeing so many articles (mostly negative). It's political overload, loveys. Sometimes we need a break. I know who I'm voting for by this point. So reading another article isn't going to do much except rile me up, and that doesn't benefit me or my family at all.

After clicking off of Facebook this morning, I needed to focus on something else. Like dinner. :)  I peeled potatoes and carrots and browned beef tips and put all of that together in my crockpot for beef stew tonight. Now my house smells comforting and fallish. And when you're weary, comfort food helps. I pulled out some of my favorite fall-themed magazines for recipe and décor ideas. Over a late breakfast of oatmeal and toast, I thought about fall and our family schedule.

I've been slowly cleaning up post-party this weekend. And still feeling so grateful for such a special time with wonderful friends. To be honest, finding friends as adults (with kids) can be hard. I was thinking about the fact that some of the couples at the party were from the first church small group we ever joined--way back before we had kids. In fact, those were some of the people who brought meals when Ashtyn was born. And here they were, celebrating with us years later. Still friends. That's a blessing. Friends come and go during every season of our lives, and that's okay. I believe God brings some people into our lives at specific times--sometimes for us to help them or for them to help us--and even if those relationships don't last forever, they were meaningful and important and part of our journey and I'm thankful. For new friends and old who were here with us Saturday, and for friends who live far away but we love them and they love us--friendship takes effort and I'm grateful for all those people.

This is the season of thanks, isn't it, loveys? For little things and big things. For the fact that I can make warm beef stew for my family. For our friends who surrounded us on Saturday night to celebrate the Jeffster. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I can freely vote for who I choose. I can choose. I don't need anyone else telling me what to do. That kind of freedom is a true gift. I love this country. What are you thankful for, lovey?

Sometimes gratitude keeps us going. For me (and this is just my experience, lovey), during moments when my marriage has been rocky, gratitude has reminded me of what I have in Jeff and our children, and how much that's worth to me. What a blessing it is to have someone to sleep next to and to take care of me when I'm sick and to share in raising children (that counts the most for me, to be honest). Love is a gift as well, and I'm forever thankful for it. Faith is a gift too. I've been open about the fact that I struggle with faith and belief. I have questions that have no answers, and I struggle with the realities of suffering here and everywhere. But still, when we lose people, or when there is nowhere else to turn, or when we have a moment of absolute clarity about something--in those moments, isn't it faith that gives us strength? It is for me. And so I hold on to it, and I pass it on to my children.

So if you're weary, like me, from a busy schedule and the deluge of political opinions, take a breath. It's still fall and what a fabulous season. Pumpkin everything, everywhere. Lily learned a word today. Santa. Good heavens, of all the words to learn. The kids were so tickled by this. (You can guess what they were talking about on the way to school!) There are all kinds of books coming out that I want to read. Poldark is back on PBS. Hallelujah! Loveys, it's soooo good. There are movies coming out near Thanksgiving that I can't wait to see. On top of that, we've got school--meaning kids coming home with colds. Homework. Soccer practice. Marriage. Dinner. Work projects. It's a lot. Take a breath. One day at a time. One mission at a time. One step at a time.

Sometimes you need a cup of coffee and to flip through fall-themed magazines. Then you'll tackle cleaning up and everything else. We know our own capacity. I was noticing the other day--when Lily drops her milk (and everything else) all over the floor, or when she again grabs the remote and changes the channel, or when she grabs my phone and pushes so many buttons that it's locked for fifteen minutes, or when she digs stuff out of the trash--oh so many things--I say, "Grrrr!" and clean it up or whatever I need to do. Well, sweet Lily has started saying, "Grrrr!" to me all the time. I now have a baby who growls a lot. I have a feeling this means her mother growls a lot.

Oh Lord.

One moment at a time.

Party Like It's 1999

Loveys, this is a party post! Saturday night we celebrated the Jeffster's 40th birthday by having a 90s themed party at our house. So. Much. Fun. For real! When I started planning Jeff's birthday party, I scoured Pinterest for 90s party ideas and came across a couple that helped. So I want to post pictures (I'll pin them for Pinterest) to share the love.

First let me say that this party was important to me. Jeff hasn't had a birthday party in umpteen years (I'm from Texas, ya'll), but you only turn 40 once and I think it's a milestone that deserves celebrating in a memorable way. So when I decided to throw him a party, my hope was that it would be so fun, when we went to sleep that night, the last thing we'd say was that it had been a great night and an awesome party. That absolutely happened! It was such a special night for Jeff. And I want to say thank you to all our amazing friends (and family, Sara and Nemo!) for getting sitters and coming to party with us. Having our house filled with people who care about us made Jeff's birthday all I wanted it to be. It means everything to me when people show up for you, and for that reason, my heart is so grateful for every person who came and listened to 90s music and played video games and brought cards and celebrated with us. THANK YOU.

So, when I first told Jeff we were going to have a party, I sort of threw out there that we should get a deejay. He laughed like I wasn't serious! But don't you totally think music makes a party awesome? We haven't hooked up our surround sound through our house yet, but I knew I wanted 90s music playing so I needed to do something. Jeff and I were both in high school in the 90s and we started dating in 1998--that music is our scene and I wanted to bring that back. We're talking about a guy who knows every word to Ice, Ice Baby. So...then Jeff remembered that one of our friends has a lot of cool stereo equipment (for weddings or parties). Score! We rented a sound system from Jeff's buddy and it was perfect. I created a playlist (so fun, by the way, listening to Hootie and Third Eye Blind and TLC, etc.). Then I decided to make CDs as party favors! All of our guests went home with a 90s mixed CD.

On to decor! So the 90s were all about the boomboxes. Pinterest gave me an idea for a table centerpiece. It took some Goodwill shopping and a little spray paint, but totally worth it. Really, I love this so much and it cost me less than ten dollars.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it now but I can't throw it away! I'm thinking the kids will have 90s themed birthday parties next year! Ha!

I also knew I wanted a banner and I wanted it to be a nod to Friends (which Jeff and I loved). Do you remember how nearly every single Friends episode's title began with "The One Where..."? I wanted a banner that read, The One Where Jeff Turns 40. I ordered this amazing banner for a super reasonable price at VistaPrint. I LOVED how it turned out. Loveys, this banner was everything. Jeff was so excited when I rolled it out!

I also knew I wanted game stations. Because for me, the 90s were filled with all-night Mario 3 Nintendo sessions. Old school, baby. So we had two game stations where you could play either the original Nintendo (mine from childhood) or PacMan, Galaga, Frogger, and so on.

One of the things I love about parties are photo booths/photo props! So fun! So we had a Polaroid camera and lots of 90s photo props. I ordered these online. I love all the pictures so much. Jeff picked out the mullet though. (I told him it looked oddly natural on him! Ha!) (And yes, I'm wearing a T-shirt with Jeff's face on it. Jeff wants me to wear it all the time now. Good times.) 
So for the cake, I decided to use a photo of Jeff. I looked at other styles, and to me, it just fit our theme best. It turned out great and was just what I had hoped for. I wanted our decorations to be very personal (like looking through an old photo album of Jeff!). So I pulled out Jeff's old letter jacket from high school. His Star Wars case of toys, old movies and games we had, Jeff's basketball awards from the 90s. I framed pictures of Jeff from childhood. I wanted it to feel like a blast from the past!

We had a champagne toast instead of singing Happy Birthday and then we cut the cake. And I had really wanted Jeff and I at least to have one dance. So when KC and JoJo's All My Life came on, I pulled him outside and we had our moment (thanks, love). That was super special to me. Eighteen years together and we're still dancing. It's not always easy but we work for it. (Yes! Our sound system came with super cool lights that changed with the music. Loved it.)

Loveys, it was such a good night. I hope all our friends had as much fun as we did. House party, ya'll. 90s style.


Party Planning and Gratitude

Loveys, I've given in to fall. Today was gorgeous, with cool breezes, and it felt so much like fall that I almost bought a pumpkin--then I remembered that I have children who like to pick them out. I did go ahead and pull out a little décor (I'm going minimal this year) and brought autumn to my mantel. It feels delicious outside and it's just what I need at the end of a tired week. Something about fallish weather makes me hopeful. And thankful. Sometimes being thankful takes work--you know those times, amid lots of doctor bills rolling in and when your car is suddenly making a scary noise and leaking something--but beautiful weather and candy corn candles and brownies and pizza do help.

Loveys, the countdown to our 90s bash is officially here and I'm feeling just a little anxiety. I love throwing parties. I love having friends over. But because this is specifically for the Jeffster, and because I want it to be really special for him, I'm probably more nervous than usual. I've been party planning a little at a time--so I'm not completely freaking out the day of (I read somewhere that a good hostess is calm and happy for all her guests. Oh dear). I still have a lot to finish by the big day. Keep your fingers crossed for me that all goes well. The cleaning alone....heaven help me.

The fun part about having a big party at the end of September, is that it's almost a kick-off to fall. I'm hoping it's not too cold, so we're still comfortable hanging out outside around the fire-pit. Cool nights and the smoky smell of a fire. Drinks and music and friends. It's our first fall party of the season and I can't wait! What do you love about fall, lovey? Are you one of those pumpkin-spice-latte fans? For me, one of the things I love about fall is having fallish get-togethers. The weather is cool and crisp but you're not usually having to trek through snow up your friend's sidewalk. You get to wear adorable boots and sweaters (and eat more). I like warm drinks and wine and fall flavors. My BFF Michelle reminded me that last year we were together for the Harvest Moon and together we hosted a Harvest Moon tea party. (Michelle, by the way, I miss you and love you tons.) I'm not doing a Harvest Moon tea this year--obviously I'm freaking out about Jeff's 40th. But I hope to host a few small gatherings before winter.

Fall tends to be fast in Colorado so we try to enjoy every second. Seriously, all the leaves could fall in a day! At least, it feels that way. I LOVE fall foods. Give me chili and beef stew and corn bread and pecan pie and apple cider. Pumpkin dip with ginger cookies. Soups like chicken and dumplings and tomato bisque. Cinnamon scones. I like candy corn and chocolate. Black tea with cream and sugar. Fall is such a fabulous time to make memories. Pumpkin patches and apple picking--while those kinds of things can be super fun, have you found that they can also be so expensive? Maybe it's just Colorado. But if you're going to a pumpkin patch or a place to pick apples, it can be frustrating that it costs so much. I was thinking about the fact that my favorite memories growing up didn't cost anything--watching Anne of Green Gables at home with my family and eating popcorn. Drinking hot chocolate while we watched The Night They Saved Christmas. Pot roast at Mimi's house. Enchiladas at Grandma Dori's restaurant. (Yes, all my favorite memories involve food! For real, it's Friday night and the Jeffster and I are watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and wanting to try Cuban food. We're food people.)

Amazing fall memories don't have to be expensive either. We buy pumpkins from Walmart and the kids LOVE carving them outside on the deck. Ash loves to bake so I'm thinking we'll buy a big bag of apples this year and try to make a homemade apple pie. Thrift-store shopping for Halloween costumes. Trips to the library for fall-themed movies and books. Hot cocoa with jumbo marshmallows.

Family life is awesome, loveys, even if it needs to be managed on a budget. I'm all about party planning on a budget as well. If every gathering cost a fortune, they would be few and far between at my house. But coffee and scones and breakfast casserole are doable. Add in a couple of friends and you've got yourself a fall memory in the making.

My first party of the fall season is almost here, lovey. I'm ready to make some memories that will last a lifetime. It's not every day my other half turns 40. I'm so thankful for the years we've had together, and I hope for many more. It's time to celebrate. Bring on the champagne!