My Consistent Rock

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Prepare for vulnerability.

Something happened recently that blew my mind. Something I never thought could happen. Something I wasn’t prepared to hear and feel.

It was a Sunday night. I worked at my day job, came home and edited pictures, went out to dinner with my friends, came home and edited more pictures, and then gave Madison a shower. We played for a while and I mentioned to Michael about how exhausted I was. I had so much on my plate that day and I knew I had barely seen him. I did something terrible and he noticed.

I forgot him.

He was with the kids while I was at work, fed them dinner, took them to the park, went grocery shopping, all while I was getting everything done that I needed to do. After putting the girls to bed that night, he said, “Ya know, I understand you have your photography, your other job, the kids, the kids’ sports, the blog, but you wanna know what else you have? A husband.” And my heart sank. I have been so busy with everything else that I hadn’t noticed that I haven’t set time aside just for him. Sure, we talk every day and communicate about the kids, and we do have our meaningful conversations, but when was the last time we had been out just us? I literally don’t even remember.

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So, Michael, (if you even read this), I promise to do better.
I promise to never make you feel unnoticed.
I promise to dedicate myself to you as I vowed to do.
I promise to make sure that you feel loved.
And appreciated.
And worthy.
I promise to not take you for granted.
And lastly, I promise to put you above any of the other stuff that doesn’t matter the way you do.

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It’s so hard for life to get in the way and blind you of the things that matter the most. My anxiety piled into my busy life doesn’t help in the least bit. I try to please everyone and I guess in the back of my mind, I always thought of my husband as a constant, something that will always be there. But let me be a reminder to anyone that reads this, nothing matters more than your family. They love you at your highest highs and your lowest lows. My husband goes through so much with his job and I’ve noticed that I don’t praise him enough.

Michael- You are wonderful. You are always quick to help anyone that needs it. You sacrifice your life every time you deploy, which makes you such a better person than me. You are my rock, even if sometimes I don’t show it. I’m blessed to have you. I’m also super excited that you are on your way home right now with a cheeseburger for me even though I’m supposed to be dieting. You are the real deal, you hottie.

Seasons

 

“I love getting older. My understanding deepens. I can see what connects. I can weave stories of experience and apply them. I can integrate the lessons. Things simply become more and more fascinating. Beauty reveals itself in thousands of forms.” -Victoria Erickson

Yesterday was my birthday and it wasn’t a big one. Just another number. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the seasons of life. How the season that I am in now is temporary and to embrace it with both arms and squeeze tight. Where my marriage is right now, where my son is in his growth, these are all temporary. And where they are headed is exciting but nothing will be as it is today. I’m trying not to feel sad about that and instead to feel passionately about this season of my life.

You get to a point in your life where getting older starts to feel more like a privilege than a curse. You start to question what the younger generation is wearing and listening to and feel nostalgic for the music and style of your youth. You realize the songs you grew up with are now considered “classic” and it makes you laugh. But ultimately, you don’t have any desire to go back. You don’t want to relive those days because these days are so magnificent.

Every sunset is more orange and every flower is more magical. And part of that is that I’m now seeing everything through the eyes of my child, but it’s also because as I get older I start to see the beauty in the every day. I notice the view going over the hill of the mountains in the background. I feel the warm sun on my back as I push my baby in his stroller through our neighborhood. Beautiful days are more beautiful and rainy days bring the smell of spring. “Beauty reveals itself in thousands of forms”.

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift”- Shauna Niequist

 

Book Review: “A Man Called Ove”

“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

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As an English major in college my job was basically to read all the time. I almost started to resent it because it took something I loved doing and turned it into work. And I also had a really hard time buying in to a lot of literary analysis. I mean, maybe that tree is just a friggin’ tree and not the underlying relationship between the character and how grounded he feels to the earth. It’s just an oak, ya’ll! So after I graduated I was excited to start reading again for pleasure.

I’ve been seeing this book on Best lists for a few months now so I decided to give it a shot. I read the reviews on Amazon (like I do) and it did well so into the shopping cart it went. Man, do I love me some Amazon Prime. I really did enjoy this book. I’ve decided to break down the things I liked about the book and the things that made me go, “Hmmm…”.

Likes:

  • A Fast and Easy Read: Listen, the time I have to read is very finite. It is limited to when I am pumping before going to bed and that’s about it. After I’m done pumping it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open a minute longer. So with this crazy lifestyle chasing after a little one and surviving on a low amount of sleep and a large amount of coffee, I need a book that is easy to read. That doesn’t mean it lacks depth or is simple-minded. It just means that it doesn’t exhaust you to read a page. It makes you feel, but it doesn’t make you question your existence. It makes you think but not too hard. I love how the chapters are relatively short so when I make a goal of reading to the end of the chapter it’s realistic. I read this in a few weeks (not every night) but could have easily read it in a few days if I read more at a time.
  • A Non-Likeable Main Character: A few chapters in I was worried I was going to get really annoyed with this character. Ove is an older man (more on that in the “Hmmm…” section below) who is the definition of a “get off my lawn” curmudgeon. But, without giving too much away, Ove has suffered great loss. He is lost and not sure he wants to adjust to living this new life that is in severe lack of color and sound. He is a complex character, yet so simple at the same time. Everyone can relate to him, I know I did, and everyone can imagine feeling the way he felt. I’ve never been through the loss Ove has been through, but the way Backman uses words to allow you into his grief, you are instantly empathetic. It’s refreshing to have a character that isn’t automatically likeable. He makes you work for it.
  • Diverse Characters: The characters in this book might be a smidge stereotypical, but they are diverse. Not everyone is a white, middle class man like Ove, and maybe that’s why he develops the relationships he does. To Ove, the car you drive and your ability to bleed a radiator is more important the color of your skin.
  • Beautiful One Liners: Backman has this style of taking beautiful lines and repeating them throughout a chapter. He’ll write something and then at the end of that section he’ll repeat it. It’s different, but I kind of love it. It has the potential of feeling too, “Oh look what I did there? I wrote me a great sentence. Underline it! Instagram it! Quote me for days and make images for your ‘Quotes I Love’ Pinterest board!”, but it really doesn’t. It’s not done TOO frequently. Like, maybe only a handful of times, but it’s enough to make an impact.

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  • The Sensitivity Backman Has Towards Depression: I’m not sure that I would say that Ove is depressed as much as he is done. He’s tired and sad and not looking to make any new friends. But that’s exactly what he gets at a time when he so desperately needs it most. Backmand does a great job of touching on the severity of grief with sensitivity. It just feels so real.

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Things That Made Me Go, “Hmmm….”

  • Ove’s Age: Guys, he is only 59! That is soooo young to be such a stereotypical old man character. Now, granted, it’s very clear that Ove has been this curmudgeon his entire life, but there are many moments in the book that talk about his age and getting old and how he was forced into retirement. Who gets forced into retirement before they’re 60?! Maybe that’s more prevalent in Sweden, where the book takes place? But when you’re reading it you think he’s at least 70-80. It just changes things. I tried not to pay attention to his age and more to his personality, which was essentially a 90 year old.
  • Timeline: The book jumps around a little bit describing events in Ove’s life that led him to where he is today. And while I am totally ok with it not being completely linear, it bounces back and forth between the present and various times in the past so it got a little confusing in the middle as to when things were happening- like, when exactly in the past is this? Is he 20? Is he 30? Maybe it’s because Ove is now who Ove was at 19. But it may have been a little easier to follow if the reader knew exactly when something was happening.
  • A Little Too Easy of an Ending: When you read the description of the book you learn that Ove is busy living his old man life when a young couple with two young children move in next door and kind of uproot his rigid schedule, bringing him out of his loneliness rather reluctantly. My problem is that in the end it kind of was wrapped up too neatly. When you read what happens with the characters you can’t help but think, “Ok, that was obvious I guess”. I’m not UNhappy with the ending, I just think it was a little too wrapped up with a bow. I also have a hard time with Ove’s character at the end of the book. It’s almost like he is not him anymore. Which, maybe that’s the point? But why does he have to become someone new? Why can’t he just be a less angry version of himself?

Overall I definitely recommend reading this book. It’s a great book for your vacation coming up. I am interested now in reading Backman’s other books. I kind of love that each of his book covers is the character’s back. It’s a neat little signature. Have you read “A Man Called Ove”? What did you think? And is there another book you recommend? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

Please Always Need Me

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Madison will be 7 on Sunday, SUNDAY, and I’m freaking out. Where did my 6 pound, 1 ounce baby go? I keep telling her that she isn’t allowed to have a birthday and her response is always the same, “MOMMY, I have to get older because I want to be a recycler and a doctor and pull out babies, so I have to grow!” But as the days come and go, the changes in her are becoming more apparent, and we are bumping heads more because of it. For anyone that is a parent to a 7 year old, you’ll understand me when I say it’s an incredibly awkward stage. It’s almost like she’s trying to find herself but also wants to hold on to being younger? I’m not sure I even understand. Up until the age of 6, Madison would have zero issues wearing dresses or bows in her hair, but now she absolutely can’t stand the thought of them. Examples like this are just the beginning of it. She doesn’t like to sing anymore, she won’t wear tank tops without a fight, etc. Her appetite is out of this world and her need for the last word just goes to show she has been watching me a little too closely, haha.

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Michael and I are struggling with the rapid changes and are trying to just take it day by day, but it upsets me because all I can think about is sitting on the couch, propping her up on my legs, and swaying my little newborn back and forth until she slept. I’ll never get those days back with her. I’m thankful that she still lets me cuddle her whenever I want and my heart melts every night when she comes into my room and sleeps with me. Yeah, yeah, “She’s almost 7, why is she still sleeping with you?” Because VERY shortly, she won’t want to be near me all the time at all. And she only comes in my room at like 3 in the morning and sleeps for the next couple of hours, so I don’t feel as bad.

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Madison’s teachers have brought up “Auditory Processing” in reference to her lately. She gets pulled aside with some other kids every other day or so and they work on breaking down word problems to help them better understand. The teacher says that Madison will look at what other kids are doing when she hands out a direction instead of figuring it out alone. The mom in me can’t help but think about all the time I wasted being so impatient with her growing up. All moms aren’t patient all of the time. It’s not reality in the least bit. We all have moments where we grow impatient if our kid doesn’t do what you told them to do 58932 times. But with her, I feel like I failed her. She has issues following directions and it’s not her fault and I had no idea. It was my responsibility to see past a stubborn 3 year old and see that it was something more. Instead, I grew impatient and would probably just yell at her if she wouldn’t do what I asked for the fiftieth time.

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Even through all of our differences so far, we still love each other more than anything. She is my biggest helper and teacher with her sister and lights up both our worlds. She is the funniest little girl. The things that she writes down on random pieces of paper give me life. The girl is hilarious. She excels at drawing and making me smile. While we were in NYC, she gave me an attitude about something and I made her make a video saying that when she is a teenager, she will not be mean to her mommy. She swears up and down that she won’t be and that she will bring me two “Venti Iced Chai Tea Lattes with 7 pumps” everyday while she gets one for herself. So I have a feeling I may adore her even more as she gets older, haha! I’m going to choose to embrace the changes of my daughters as they grow and learn to adjust my parenting as I go. I’m not perfect, nobody is. But when my kids grow up, I want them to know that I tried as hard to be.

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Madison Riley, if you are looking at this one day in the future, know this:

You give me joy each and every single day. You have a kind soul and a huge heart. You will move mountains one day, kid, and I’m grateful to have a front row seat. I love you more than caesar salads, bacon, and everything else that is amazing.

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