This One's for the Guys: Romance

I have a feeling, I could be wrong though, that this will be my least read post to date (well, next to my cloth diapers posts... what's up with hardly anyone being interested in those... oh, that's right, they are about diapers. If you aren't diapering, you are NOT interested in diapering. Ha!) I don't know, maybe the guys will surprise me. Either that or all the curious women shall read this post... of course there is stuff in here for you too ladies. We will shall see.

This last weekend, my husband and I celebrated 6 years of marriage. And I have got to say, my husband kicked butt. Not that we somehow have this perfect marriage or that he always gets it right. He doesn't. (Of course, I love him as he is anyways.)

But this time, he got it right. These moments need to be cherished, written down, and reread so I can remember, lest I forget, that I am married to an amazing man.

I got a beautiful necklace and earring set by my favorite jewelry designer, Holly Yashi. I would describe it as classic beauty meets earth-loving hippie. That pretty much describes what my style would be if I had an unlimited budget and an unlimited amount of time to style myself every day. It's not fine jewelry, but it's made from cool materials, it's great quality and it's by a local artist... so it's not cheap.

He made reservations for a local restaurant... the kind that you dress nice for, choose your wine based on your food, hope to God you are using the right fork, costs well over $100 for 2 people and comes complete with a chef with a French accent. The restaurant happened to be attached to the same place we spent our first night those many moons ago. Good choice husband!

But here's the thing. My favorite part of the anniversary gift was the cheesy, handwritten love letter on binder paper attached to the jewelry box. It actually made me cry (yes I am totally a girl, but I do not cry over everything.) My favorite part of dinner wasn't the crab cakes, the walu steak with the macadamian gastrique sauce, or the creme brulee; it was the walk we took after dinner through the garden. Mike pulled me into the empty wedding tent in the middle of the garden and we waltzed by moonlight while singing our song, "Take my hand, take my whole life too, for I can't help falling in love with you..."

On our after dinner walk. :)

Guys, I gotta tell you, every woman who just read my last paragraph let out a big sigh "Awe." Every woman wants to be loved, cherished, ROMANCED. It's not about budget; it's about... wait for it... you aren't going to like it... wait for it...the THOUGHT. A woman wants to feel like she's the only woman in the room that you see, she wants to feel special, one-of-a-kind, and loved unconditionally. She needs you to create those thoughtful, special moments. I gotta let you in on a little secret that will set you up for Romance. Women don't make sense. Men furrow their eyebrows, scratch their heads and try to make sense of the ways of a woman... just stop. We don't make sense. We like gifts that don't make sense. Shoes that don't make sense. Shoot most of our conversations don't make sense. So, all you have to do, dear man, is do something that doesn't make much sense (at least to you... let's hope it makes a little sense to her) and you are golden!

I want to remind you of something we all know: All women want romance. All guys want sex. Man, you want the sex: give the girl her romance and she will blow your mind. And ladies, same deal: you want your man to be romantic, keep him better than satisfied.

I just started reading this book by Jentezen Franklin called The Fasting Edge. Albeit a fairly crazy comparison here (since when does the spiritual practice of fasting have anything to do with romance?!), but track with me here. Jentezen Franklin opens his book by talking about axes. A sharp axe cuts through far more trees than a dull axe. A dull axe is actually dangerous. Stopping to sharpen your axe actually benefits you in the long run. His point is that every now and again Christians need to break out of their routine and fast to get their axe sharp again. I think the same basic principle can be applied to marriage. Every now and again, you got to break out of the routine of your marriage and spend time caught up in Romance, and, yes, men, more sex too. Don't let your marriage get dull! Maybe you use the standard holidays (anniversary and Valentines's Day) to sharpen your marriage or maybe it's completely spur of the moment. Routine is so easy to fall into and so hard to break out of, and while routine is fine, eventually a marriage grows dull in that routine. Every now and again, you gotta sharpen that axe.

So here is my simple plea: Break out of your routine and romance the girl. Your woman needs it, and, perhaps, your marriage needs it. You will not regret this. Buy the flowers. If you have no money, pick some flowers. But don't stop there, leave the note attached to the flowers that says what your favorite curve of her body is or the moment you first fell in love with her. Help the mother of your child around the house. Do the dishes. But don't stop there, leave a post-it note on the dishwasher telling her how much you appreciate all she does around the house. Take your woman out on a date. But don't stop there, whisk her to her feet and dance with her in the restaurant, on the sidewalk, or in the parking lot. Oh and by the way, women don't care how terrible you dance. So spin her around like you know what you are doing, dip her (carefully), and kiss her.

The point: Don't just throw down money on flowers or dinner or jewelry and think that money just bought you a romance pass and you are now relieved from further romantic notions for at least 6 months time (and you certainly better not set your alarm in your iphone calendar to go off in six months to remind you to do that romance again... sorry men, women just do not work like that. There is no formula. Actually, now that I think about it, sure, remind yourself if that's what it takes; just don't tell your significant other it took an alarm to get you to be romantic. Ha!). Do that little bit extra: the love note, burning "your song" to a cd so it can play in the car on your way to dinner, the dancing, the sweet words, opening every single door including the car door, pulling out her chair...  And if you have no money, just do the little bit extra. Your special someone will not let you regret this.

(And ladies, allow your man to be romantic. Do not nit-pick his attempts like we can sometimes do. Don't laugh or scoff at his attempts. No one likes to be laughed at while they are making themselves vulnerable. Romance makes most men vulnerable because for most men it does not come natural. Recognize that men do not think like we think, and the things that seem super obvious to us make absolutely no sense to him. You see your man attempting romance, encourage him, appreciate it, and write it down or take a picture of it so when you start to forget it you can remember that you have a wonderful man. We want him to have the chance to practice Romance, and like anything practiced, he will get better at it over time. The point is to encourage him.)

Alright, there it is. Two words that sum up this entire post: ROMANCE. SEX. There you go.

Oh, and if you want more help/ideas in this area or have found yourself with a "dull" marriage, do check out Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. It is the BEST series on marriage I have ever heard. I learned so many basic principles, got to better understand the mind of a man as well as my own mind, and I laughed the entire time while doing it. The guy, Mark Gungor, is hilarious! (And, hey, might not be a bad idea to check around local churches to see if any are doing or have done this series to try to get your hands on the DVDs)

Looking Back: Wedding Day!

Sometimes you look at your wedding album and it feels like it happened just yesterday.

Sometimes you look at your wedding album and it feels like an entire lifetime ago. Today, it feels like my wedding didn't happen in my lifetime. Michael has changed jobs 11 times in less than 4 years (Only 2 of those times was it by choice... and he has never been fired. Perhaps, this economy has been a bit rough on us, but then it seems like it's been rough on a lot of people...). We have moved 4 times in less than 4 years. We had a miscarriage. We have brought 2 children into the world.  We've vacationed a few times. A whole lot of set-backs and triumphs... life seems full of them, and some seasons of life seem to hold more than others.

Since this weekend we celebrate 6 years of marriage, I want my wedding day to feel like it was just yesterday.

And so...

I pull out the pictures. I look back.

Michael and I had known each other for 5 years prior to dating. We were friends. Not close ones. Just friends. We went to church together and served in the youth group together. He was one of my brother's closest friends. I was the girl who broke his friend's heart. It's not that we didn't like each other, we just didn't think of each other.


He asked me out for a burger.

I didn't even get the burger with him. But that proposition changed everything. Michael was now at the forefront of my life. It's a story for another time (a good one too... I think it makes the story of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe pale by comparison... but then I might be a little biased. It is my love story after all).

So here's the very short version: We dated for a month. We were engaged for 3 months. We fell in love, hard and fast. Perhaps the short span of courtship time just convinced you of my craziness, but I haven't regretted it for a single moment. Sometimes you just know.

We knew.

Enter November 13, 2005. It was a Sunday. We chose Sunday because, well, when you are planning a wedding in 3 months on a tight budget, you take what you can get. The sun was shining, the air was brisk. Maybe it's cliche, but it really was a beautiful fall day.
I remember putting the dress on and the tears my mom cried. Good thing she bought the super-duper water-proof mascara. My mom cried a lot. I love you mom!

My husband bought his groomsmen air soft guns for gifts. Not very traditional, or sentimental for that matter. But I don't think most guys care about all that.

I remember the anticipation, stepping out onto the first day of the rest of my life, knowing my life would never be the same. (In fact, there was so much "anticipation"... I literally showed up to the rehearsal the night before puking... like really, got out of the car, and, as Mike came out to greet me, I retched into the bush in front of the church. I had a large group of women and girls praying fervently for my nervous tummy. What if I showed up to the wedding in the same fashion?! It was not funny at the time, but looking back, it's hilarious! I would be the girl who gets sick! Fortunately, on the day of the wedding the prayers worked, and, while I was not 100 percent, I did not puke on the preacher's shoes.)

We chose the song "She Walked In" by Detour 180 to walk down the aisle to. Alternative Rock song by a barely known Aussie band; totally suits Michael and I. "And here I am waiting I'm waiting for you With arms outstretched. And here I am longing I'm longing for you For you" Cue big dramatic rock pick up and then the fall, and as I begin to make my way down the aisle only the singer can be heard: "She walked in and made me smile Talked a bit then stayed for a while. Beautiful vessel, who is full in you? Come fill me." Kinda perfect if you ask me.

I remember the look of devotion and excitement in my husbands eyes. I didn't know what "the better or worse" would look like that I was committing to, but I knew this man would love and cherish me through it. I remember wiping a tear from his face and the entire room seemed to let out a sigh: "Awe!"

Our ceremony was simple. We aren't too into traditions; and, since we both have trouble sitting through anything remotely verging on boring, we just exchanged rings and vows; had someone play a beautiful song they wrote for us; and, since prayer and God are a huge part of our life, we had our spiritual mentors pray over us and our marriage. Then we kissed. It had been 3 months since we kissed. It was important to us to save ourselves for our wedding night and since we had such a strong, um, chemistry together, we realized we wouldn't make it to the wedding night if we didn't hold off on the kissing. So when I say we kissed... we KISSED. :)
I love this picture. You can see the eagerness of my husband to seize his bride, the hesitation of a bride who knows she's in a room full of relatives, friends and fellow church-goers who are all watching, and you can see our pastor who knew we had waited to kiss, laughing in the background.

Someone should have cued Etta James bellowing out "At Last My Love Has Come Along."

"And now I have the pleasure of  presenting to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Michael ______" 

When we got outside the church, this is the site that awaited us. Can you tell my brother was in charge of the decorating our getaway car and that the Christmas decorations had just been stocked at the DollarTree? We can!

And now the whirlwind of congratulations, family reunion, pictures, and trying to head to the reception. I love how my baby brother is tight-rope walking on the planter box ledge in the midst of all this. Young boys are so enthralled by their big sisters' wedding days... HA!

Us with both our immediate families.
Can you tell which family goes with me and with Mike? :)

Me with my girls.
I love these girls! They were all positive troopers from my burnt orange fabric choice (I still love that color) to the terrible seamstress we ended up with. By the way, I strongly recommend going with a seamstress and buying fabric from a local flea market (dresses were a mere $35 a piece this way!)... but I even more strongly recommend that you make sure your seamstress comes with recommendations first!

Mike and the guys.
Oh, boys! White socks?! My husband would have been sporting the white socks too, had our pastor not came to the rescue... not Mike's rescue, he didn't care... MY rescue. Ha!

We were and still are so in love.

The reception was beautiful. My pastor's wife saved our small budget decorations with her creativity. I love that woman! Our theme was: "Fall in Love." Cheesy, perhaps, but cheesy definitely suits us. (And yep, those are real leaves! Thank you bridesmaid who collected them for us.)

The cake cutting. I still love the classic elegance of that cake. I just wish I could remember what it tasted like... (Confession: I don't even remember what flavors I picked out) That day goes by way too fast!

First Dance: "Fools Rush In" by Elvis Presley. Classic and very appropriate for our love story.

Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance. We combined them, and it was hysterical. My dad and I did a nice fox trot. My daddy can dance! Mike and his mom did something that resembled swing... yep, to the same song. If you know both of our families, you know how appropriate this is.

Let the dancing commence!

What fun to look back! Okay, now it feels a little more like yesterday. And along with the birth of our children and the day I asked Christ into my heart... this day is among the BEST.

Now to remember the first night... Don't worry I will not remember the details here. All you get is: It was worth the wait! ;)

 Happy Anniversary Michael! If I could do it all over again knowing what 6 years into the future would hold, I wouldn't change a thing (well, maybe the seamstress... ha!) I would marry you again in a heartbeat.

Treat Yourself: Ain't nothing sexier than believing you are sexy

Yep, I just went there. I said sexy on a mommy blog. But then maybe that's the problem... not thinking sexy and mom can go in the same sentence or be on the same blog.

Let me first take a moment to clarify my definition of sexy. I am not throwing this word out there in some bawdy, hyper-sexual sense of the word and merely meaning to have sex appeal. To me being a sexy woman infers confidence, desirability and all things beautiful and feminine. To further my point, The World English Dictionary defines it as "interesting, exciting, and trendy." I want to be that kind of woman (and, of course, I want to be, as in the simplest definition of the word, sexually appealing to my hubby... you feel me on that one?!)

Sure in the process of becoming a mom, your belly expands beyond recognition, your bladder stops working like it used to (no one tells you before you embark on the journey called motherhood that 36 weeks pregnant combined with one strong, unexpected sneeze can be incredibly mortifying), and dignity, well, that just heads right out the window when the need to get the baby out combined with sheer pain overtakes your body (plus, hello, in trying to breastfeed, your boobs become a doctor/nurse/helpful-aunt free-for-all). As a mom, you deal with more poop and pee than you care to realize, you lovingly spoon feed spinach only to have it raspberried back in your face by that darling baby who just learned a new sound that he can make, and your primary fragrance is not "Euphoria" by Calvin Klein but rather "Spit Up" by Jed.

Because don't you know, every woman looks and feels super sexy after labor and delivery... to that I say, HA!

Being a mom is tough work. I can't help but wonder why Mike Rowe hasn't done that episode on "Dirty Jobs."


You are strong. You nurture. You love. You have have more curves than a winding mountain road, and they are appealing. You are the queen of your castle. You are deep and passionate. You are sexy.

Okay... so maybe after taking your recently potty trained daughter to the restaurant bathroom to try to go peepee only to discover she has in fact gone number 2 in her pants and it is now everywhere and you don't have a change of clothes or a single wet wipe and you have to somehow improvise with only toilet paper on a big mess and drag her out with only (and I mean only) her skirt on to avoid complete mortification (can you tell I have been here?!), you straight-up do not feel sexy.

You are sexy!

Maybe you need to do a little something for yourself to help you believe it. Maybe the budget is tight and maybe you sacrifice your wardrobe needs to doll-up your kids (I will be the first to say I WAY prefer shopping for my kids than myself. It's easy to get them looking good, me... well, that takes some work), but you still need to treat yourself. Splurge every now and again on the trendy, good-for-one-season-only top that makes you feel pretty and current. Invite a friend out for coffee and leave the husband home with the kids for an hour. Spend a little time blogging (that is my treat to myself... I love to write!). Do a craft project for yourself. Fill the bathtub, light a few candles, and lock the door for 5 minutes. Stop complaining about the state motherhood has left your body or how tired you are. Eat better, exercise more, and make SLEEP a priority. Treat yourself. Do what you need to do to feel a little sexier.

I treated myself to some pink peek-a-boo highlights a year ago, and apparently my daughter was overcome by the same need to feel pretty since she covered her lips in my pink lipstick. Haha!

I am a history nerd. Confession: I watch history documentaries for fun, and everytime I watch a movie or television show based on history, I fact-check every detail. I love the stories of Anne Boleyn and Cleopatra--two women who were not beautiful by their cultures' standards, but still managed to change the course of history by turning men's hearts. They were SEXY. Why were they sexy? Because they were confident. They were not the insecure teen girls at the dance constantly visiting the bathroom to double check their make up. They didn't obsess over their flaws. They confidently believed they were worthy of the men they obtained.

Anne Boleyn... pretty sure if these women can be considered sexy; there's hope for me!

Maybe you aren't inclined to rule Egypt or break Catholicism's grip on the English monarchy, but, I bet, (and this is me speaking for myself here) you want to manage your own house, raise up strong children to the best of your ability, keep your other half happy, and change some piece on your end of the world. You want to pour love into all you do. You want to accomplish your divine purpose on this planet, be the woman that you were made to be, and not allow yourself to be perpetually lost behind your children and husband. That is the heart of the matter, the reason I say this. You NEED to feel sexy.

And, at least according to my husband, there ain't nothing sexier than a woman who believes she's sexy.

So, Treat yourself and OWN IT girl! If you believe it, so will that spouse of yours. And if you happen to be hacking it as a single mom, all the more important because you don't have that significant other helping you believe it of yourself.

And as a brief aside, for all the married mommas, I firmly believe that sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. And let's face it, in the midst of adjusting to life with children, marriage can be difficult and sex can be become, well, rare. Sometimes sex isn't just for making babies and it isn't just for fun... it's the battleground upon which you fight for your marriage. Don't always use the excuse that you are tired, even though you truly may be... keep your man satisfied, keep yourselves on the same page, as Nike advertisements used to say: "Just do it." And so, for the sake of your marriage, as well as more frequent love-making, I say allow yourself to feel sexy. (And if that logic doesn't cause the husband to hand you $25 for a pedicure, I don't know what will! Haha!)

Buy the pretty top, take the bubble bath, get that pedicure, lose the couple pounds, eat the (1) piece of chocolate, enforce a one-hour nap time regardless of whether your kids nap so you can have a little peace and quiet, do what it takes to feel good about yourself. Please don't use this as justification to blow your budget, max your credit card, neglect your children or pick up unhealthy eating habits. That is not point. It can be simply working into your budget $20 a month of "Mom's Spend it on herself and only herself" money and not feeling bad about actually spending it on yourself.

As a reminder, this is merely my own pep talk to myself that I hope encourages some other moms. This may be full of the pronoun "you" but trust me my finger is pointed at myself as I say this. I need to feel sexy.

So, now I sign off with a "here's to US!"

Here's to us bold, courageous, strong, passionate, curvy, nurturing, beautiful, SEXY moms!