Email I sent Joe on our 9th Anniversary

FullSizeRenderHey Babe,

I wrote this for you for our anniversary today and so, when you can take a minute, let these words soak in. I’m so in love with you and so honored to build this life with you.

___________________________________________________________________

It’s been nine years since I walked down that aisle towards you. We held hands and made promises and walked back out together to our future.

We didn’t know then that we’d eventually keep on walking out of that place and right out of our very skin becoming new people in so many ways. Walking on together is what we’ve become good at – moving through these stages of life, together.  Gracefully having the ability to look at each other and affirm the goodness between us even when the world is swirling around us.

We’ve seen each other at our mightiest and our most debilitated and neither of us has side stepped or flinched. We’ve never failed our covenant to show up and love.

We’re learning how to love one another at our best and at our bland and at the bottom of ourselves. So far, this looks like clapping over our heads in full The Pursuit of Happyness style because sometimes life feels that hard and victories require a slow clap with tears streaming down our cheeks. It’s doing Captain Keith’s fist pumps from Deadliest Catch, including sound effects (“Ugnx, ugnx, ugnx” or something like that:)).  It looks like you doing baths while I do dishes or the other way around, day in and day out. It’s “wow not how” and “I’ll do bedtime” and “I’ll take the kids out for a bit so you get some space” and “thank you” and “I can’t wait to hang out with you on the couch”. It’s thoughtfully planned meals and intentional habits and picking up the slack and the acknowledgment of a hard days work.  It’s grabbing the lotion for a foot rub without saying a word and scratchies and waking in the middle of the night because sometimes that when we need to know we’re not alone.  It’s a glass of scotch waiting with a tender question to get the ball rolling. We ebb and we flow and we sit, present and all in.

I want you to know I like you. I’d choose to hang out with you over anyone else. I can’t get enough of talking with you about anything and everything. I like the things you think so deeply about and articulate so beautifully…like about our souls and your inner world and the absurdity of this big outer world. I like that you share all of those spaces with me.

I like us. I like all things we’ve established over time that make us, us: like how we do money, and how we do dreams, how we speak to each other, and how lead our family together, and how we make decisions and parent together. I like how you come close, saddle right up next to my heart, never letting either one of us ever feel too far away. You are so good at that.

I love all the ways, for 9 years, we have followed through with our vows and grown them to mean so much more.

I’m grateful for the hum in me that recognized the hum in you.

Here’s to picking well, even when we have no idea how that happened.

You have my heart and P.S. I love you.

Year in Review: 2014

Bright and early yesterday morning, an alert popped up on my phone. It was TimeHop, an app that shows pictures or posts from that day in years past.  Two years ago, I posted a blog of my year in review.  I joyfully read through what life held in 2012 and reminisced as if it were yesterday.  I loved it.  It inspired me to catalogue this year as well. 2014.  This one has been like whoa. Here are a few highlights (and by “highlights” I mean a novel), month by month:

January 2014:

-We walked into this year, moving forward into the unknown, one frightening step at a time.  The previous year handed us some devastating blows.  A major one was that due to situations beyond our control, we found ourselves without a job.  January approached and the only thing that was clear was that we were going to forge ahead with Digital Nomad Creative, a small creative company Joe had built on the side and kept afloat with a small project here or there.   Digital Nomad was now going to be our full and only source of income in 2014.  Thankfully, I married a man with some defining qualities: hard work, determination, confidence, wisdom and a deep seeded hope for our future.  He woke up at 5 am many days and at night we’d sit on the couch figuring out what projects we had in the hopper and how we were going to get new ones.  We made (and sold) an app for the iPhone called ColorCode. We built websites and made videos and worked with companies to determine the best way to tell their stories. In January, we teamed up with a company who wanted Joe to produce several of their big events in coming months.  It was ridiculously hard work, the kind we’d gladly never have to do again, but we were thankful for the provision.

-At the same time, I started a business on Etsy, selling custom hand-drawn portraits.  I made several for Christmas presents that year and at the encouragement of some dear ones, opened up shop at the very end of  January.  Through out the year, I consistently averaged at least one to two portraits a month and ended with a bang, doing one project that consisted of over 50 individual drawings.

I open an Etsy shop!

I open an Etsy shop!

Portrait I did for our friends,  Jeanne and Jarrett

Portrait I did for our friends, Jeanne and Jarrett

February 2014: 

-We started off the month with a little Super Bowl Party with friends and a few new people who were working with Joe.  I made all the football things: potato skins, chicken wing dip, spinach dip, wings, chili.  A feast, to say the least.  We could care less about what teams played, as it wasn’t our Cowboys (who are in the play off this year tho!!!).

-Miles’ Infamous Tree Climbing Incident.  Miles climbed the tree in our back yard and got his foot stuck. He was ridiculously high, too high for me to reach him (after several attempts) and unstick his foot. Joe was out of town and none of my neighbors were home, so I had to call the Fire Department to get him down.  Miles was ecstatic, like he won the lottery of boyhood adventure. He had a great story to tell.  I had a mild heart attack.  The firemen had a good chuckle. All ended well🙂

Miles and the firemen after their heroic rescue

Miles and the firemen after their heroic rescue

March 2014:

-This month kicked off a relentless traveling and production schedule for Joe.  He was gone every week this month and would come home bone-tired for maybe a day or two, still needing to prep for upcoming work, turn around and have to leave again. Many times, his production schedule would have him traveling long hours and upon arrival to his destination he would go straight to constructing stages and lighting rigs, running interference for any production sna-foos then working on graphics and problem solving for any tech issues.  He’d run tech-rehearsals at 3am and dress rehearsals at 6am and find himself 24 hours later still with no sleep.  We were weary beyond anything we’ve experienced.  But there was sweetness too. I don’t think I’ve ever worried about and prayed for my husband like I did this month.  I loved him with a force greater than gravity and we leaned into each other in ways we’d never needed to before.

-My family showed up BIG this month.  My brother, Mikey and his wife, Amy, came and stayed with me one week while Joe was gone.  We did game nights and let Miles stay up late with us playing cards and eating popcorn.

-For another week, my mom suggested she and I take the boys to Minnesota to visit my brothers, Patrick and Sean.  It was our first visit to Phelan Acres, the farm house, my brother Sean and his wife, Sarah, bought earlier that year.  Miles (4) and Owen (1.5) LOVED the snow (which was still waist high on them) and had such a fun time playing with their cousin, Eli (almost 3).  Highlights from the trip were watching Miles freak out at how much he loved the snow and watching Owen love on Patrick’s dog, Pierre.  We built a snowman and drank hot chocolate.  We snuggled by the fire and loved every minute of being with family.  Beyond this week together, there wasn’t a day my mom didn’t text or call and check in on me.  She was my constant support system and I am so thankful for her – I don’t know what’d I do without her.

-At the end of March, my dad came down from Chicago to stay with us.  I remember texting with him one night and he was asking how things were going and without hesitating he texted me back, “My ticket is booked for the 21st.”  I burst into tears – it meant the world to me.  One of the highlights of his week here was taking morning walks together.  After I’d drop Miles off at school, I’d come home and Dad and I would take Owen out for long walks in our neighborhood.  We’d walk to the park or the lake or turn right at the dead end and head up to the golf club house.  It was such a sweet time chatting with my Dad.  I knew he liked it because he’d get to report back to Julie that he’d reached his goal for the number of steps his pedometer read for the day.🙂

Miles enjoying the fruits of being the oldest

Miles enjoying the fruits of being the oldest

My mom with her grand boys in MN

My mom with her grand boys in MN

Miles and Eli loving the snow

Miles and Eli loving the snow

Owen dressed for the cold

Owen dressed for the cold

Our first ever snowman

Our first ever snowman

My dad wrestling with his grand boys

My dad wrestling with his grand boys

During one of Joe's days back home, he taught Miles to ride his bike.  #1 Dad.

During one of Joe’s days back home, he taught Miles to ride his bike. #1 Dad.

April 2014:

-Some of Joe’s traveling carried over into April but the worst was behind us and we tried to get our barring straight this month.

-The Porters (our beloved neighbors and some of our very bestie friends) invited us on a lovely Porter/Loveless Staycation at a local Wyndam Resort.  We had a ball – swimming during the day and hanging out at night. Rene, my kindred soul sister, even brought CRAFTY things for her and I to work on when the kids went to bed. SO FUN! Since it was the week before Easter, we surprised the kids and had the Easter Bunny show up at the condo one of nights – he deliver eggs and baskets to all the kids.  (Almost a year later, just this month, Miles was reminiscing about this trip and said, “Mommy that was so fun!! Can we do that again?!”)  It was a welcome retreat, to be sure.

May 2014:

-Joe produced The One Night Event here in Orlando, which is a big charity event for Orlando Regional Medical Center.  It was a big deal and he did a fantastic job.  I was super proud of all his hard work.

-We helped Joe’s parents move into their new house and christened it with several movie nights, which is one of my favorite things🙂

-On May 25th, Joe turned 30 and all birthday plans crashed and burned as our entire family got ridiculously sick.  We tried to have a dinner and bonfire with friends but I literally couldn’t speak the entire night because I lost my voice.  Joe tried to play golf with a fever and all other birthday plans were canceled.  Thankfully we rescheduled the things we could, one of those things being a delicious dinner with his parents at Vito’s Chop House.

Joe getting a smootch from me on his birthday

Joe getting a smootch from me on his birthday

June 2014:

-On June 9th we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary with a night away at Champions Gate Resort. I was surprised with Champagne and chocolate strawberries in our room.🙂

-Joe produced and directed a “Singing in the Rain” remake for the 12 screens in the round at Millenia Mall in Orlando. He was able to bring several of his long time friends together for the remake and it was a super fun project he got to work on.  This was one of five videos he made for Millenia this year.

-Towards the end of June, we celebrated my dear friend, Lindsey’s birthday by going on an epic boat trip, island hopping in the gulf.  It was such a fun trip – one that made me love Florida and all the ridiculous beauty we have all around us.  I had one of my most restful, peaceful moments of the year while we docked at one the islands.  I laid on the beach at the water’s edge and just rested. No one was around – everyone else was down the beach looking for shells or out in the water – and for a long time it was just me and the rhythm of the waves and I felt the peace of God.  It was a precious time.

July 2014:

-We took a day trip to Anna Maria Island and explored the beaches with my little family.  We decided to forgo a long vacation this year, but tried to do small trips that felt like getaways. This trip was just the ticket.

– My brother, Mikey and his wife, Amy came to stay with us for a while.  It was sweet to see how Owen and Miles loved having their auntie and uncle around – Owen waking up in the morning trying to yell underneath their door, “MAYMEE! MIKEY!!)

-Rene and our friend Jen started a Photography business and snapped some wonderful pics of me and my dear ones.  The first and only professional family photo shoot we’ve ever done.

All the things I hold most dear

All the things I hold most dear

This kid's laugh is something else - lights up my soul

This kid’s laugh is something else – lights up my soul

This boy has a kind heart and I love him

This boy has a kind heart and I love him

going for it

going for it

August 2014:

-Miles turned 5 – we had a Star Wars birthday even though he’s never seen the movies yet.

-Joe went to NYC for a few video shoots for a new Digital Nomad client

-Miles starts his 2nd year at Montessori school (though we later decide to pull him and wait until next year to start kindergarten)

-I gather with some dear friends for the first of four Bread & Wine dinner parties.

Our first Bread & Wine with the Super Soul Supper Club girls

Our first Bread & Wine with the Super Soul Supper Club girls

September 2014:

-Miles was one of the lead parts in his school play.  His role was “Miles Spicklebomb” the Dad in the play “Around the World at Disney” – which his class wrote!  He was amazing and we were so proud of his hard work at memorizing his lines!  He also got to do the pledge of allegiance at the performance because earlier in the month he was voted to be his Class President. (Joe and I weren’t crazy about his class holding elections but let him participate .  We celebrated that his classmates saw him as a helper in his class and were really proud of him for that:)

unnamed-2

Miles and his cousin, JD (who is also in his class) with their GDaddy after their performance

October 2014:

-Owen turned TWO! We celebrated by going to Disney World for the day!  He LOVED Dumbo and meeting Winnie the Pooh, Rabbit, and Tigger but his absolute favorite was the race car ride (which truly should be taken down for safety reasons!) We had the BEST day!

-We also had a little party for him with family and friends at the park. It was “puppy” themed because Owen is a dog lover!! It was a sweet party with loads of wonderful gifts for my boy.  It was also the first REALLY cold day of the year (dipping into the 50s) so we were freezing our booties off:)

-We also celebrated Halloween, trick or treating with the Porters and after the kids went down, had a fire in their driveway giving out candy to the late trick or treaters. Miles was Lego Batman – a costume I made because he had his heart set on it…and Owen was a puppy!

At Disney for Owie's 2nd bday!

At Disney for Owie’s 2nd bday!

Our little driver

Our little driver

Miles and Dad on Mine Train

Miles and Dad on Mine Train

Me and the bday boy waiting to see Pooh Bear

Me and the bday boy waiting to see Pooh Bear

These guys got Mommy to go on a roller coaster bc Mine Train was so fun!

These guys got Mommy to go on a roller coaster bc Mine Train was so fun!

A picture I snapped of Owen on his bday

A picture I snapped of Owen on his bday

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

November 2014:

-Out of the blue, Joe gets an amazing job offer.  There were two companies Joe previously had talked to me about wanting to work for if he ever could and one of those was PowerDMS.  They are a software company that has a reputation for being ridiculous about wanting their employees to freaking love their jobs – they mean it and have created a pretty amazing company culture because of it.  They’ve been awarded one of the best places to work in Orlando for several years running.  Joe unknowingly had lunch with their COO several months ago while meeting his friend, Croy (who works there) for lunch. When they were creating a new position in the company, he remembered Joe from their lunch.  We were beyond excited.

-While Joe worked hard to finish up all Digital Nomad projects due in November, we also had scheduled a trip to my brother’s in MN for my Dad’s 60th birthday.  It was epic and everything my soul needed. All my brothers and their wives (girlfriends) were there.  We made party decorations and had a DAD themed Top Chef challenge, cooking meals that reminded us of Dad.  We chopped down a dead pine tree and had a huge bonfire.  We went sledding and rode the tractor in the snow and had a snowball fight and loved every single minute of being together.  Our last night there, we celebrated Thanksgiving (a week early) and made ridiculously good food.

-When we returned home, we celebrated Thanksgiving with Joe’s family at his parent’s house and then at my mom’s newly built house they moved into at the beginning of the month.  It was a sweet thing that we got to be with every side of our family for the holiday.

Happy 60th, Dad

Happy 60th, Dad

Dad and Owen walking the acres at Phelan Acres

Dad and Owen walking the acres at Phelan Acres

chopping her down

chopping her down

burning her up

burning her up

Love these people!

Love these people!

December 2014:

-Joe started his new job on December 1st.  We wept together thanking God for his provision this year.  And we felt like we took our first deep breath in a year and a half.

-We decided to pull Miles out of the school he was at and wait until next year to start Kindergarten.  I started homeschool with him on the same day Joe started his new job.  He is more than ready for Kindergarten but we will just be keeping up his skills and forging ahead learning some new fun things!

-We were deeply sad when Joe’s Aunt Leslie (Caron’s sister) went to be with the Lord on December 6th, 2014.  She was finally healed of her mysterious illness that kept her in the hospital for the past several months but deeply heartbroken for her three daughters and precious husband she left behind.

-Despite that great sadness, Christmas time was still able to be joyful and calm this year.  We did our family traditions which we’ve begun weaving into the fabric of these early years with our kiddos:  welcoming the wise guys and delivering goodies to unsuspecting people we love on Christmas Adam.) My brother, Mike and Amy were here on Christmas morning, making it extra festive.  We made biscuits and gravy the morning of Christmas Eve and French Toast and Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas morning.  We celebrated with Joe’s family and my mom and step-dad.

We are counting our blessings at this year’s end. I’m always amazed at what a year can hold.  Thanks for reading – this was a long one!  And Happy New Year.🙂

Bread & Wine

Almost a year ago, my friend Colleen sent me a gift in the mail, a book called Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.  Found within its pages are stories about food & friendship, parenting & longing, and ultimately, nourishing your soul around the table.  It’s about a little of everything & anchors around the idea that, “food is a language of care…It’s the thing that connects us.”  

I particularly resonated with this:photo-7

Yes. This.

 But also, nerves.  It took me almost a year to gather up my people.  I kept MEANING to organize and invite and plan but I also kept forgetting/second guessing myself/figured everyone was too busy or too tired or too whatever.  But finally I texted everyone – a group of woman who didn’t all know each other but had enough threads of connection to make it seem like a perfect web of YES.  So I texted.  Like 7 or 8 long, wordy, ramble-y texts. Each one said yes and last night we gathered around my table.

All week, I couldn’t stop making details for our dinner party. Place settings, name cards, chalkboard menu, hand written quotes from the book, cactus and succulents to go with our Mexican food theme – I literally couldn’t stop.  For me, part of the divine is found in these types of details.  It is a whole other way I can communicate care and comfort.  It fills me to overflowing. 

So, obviously, arrows. 

photo 2-2photo 5photo 5-2

photo 4-2photo 4But the best part wasn’t the place settings or the cute name cards.  The best part happened at 6:30pm when there was a rush of friends.  One walking in the front door, carrying food, the same moment another opening my back door after traipsing through her yard.  In seconds, we were chopping, adjusting oven temperatures, hearing kid stories from the day, CONNECTING. One friend has a dairy allergy so separate versions of enchiladas and jalepano poppers, were made with care and marked for good measure.  Sangria and guacamole and amaretto mousse.  Friends familiarizing themselves with my kitchen, feeding each other in more way than one.  We sat to eat around 7:30pm or so and didn’t leave until near midnight.  We were full in every sense of the word.  

I’m so glad I made space at my table and in my soul for this kind of gathering.  

Funny thing, too – I wrote about tables maybe 4 years ago on this blog.  You can check out that post here.