New Parents Love Letter

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Dear Ryan,

It’s 2 degrees outside (but feels like -7) and we are snuggled up at home with our sweet baby boy. Donned in our rattiest mismatched pajamas (they are the comfiest ones), we are sitting side by side on the couch where I am pumping breast milk and you are watching The Universe (even though you did say I could catch up on all my shows this weekend ahem). Wyatt is napping contentedly and we smile as he farts loudly in his sleep. 

There is no other way I’d want to spend my Saturday night. 

Earlier today we finally hung the gallery wall that we have been talking about for over two years, did laundry, and threw out some old junk. For once we actually used a Saturday to get something other than sleep and staring at the baby accomplished. I’m proud of us.

After I’m done pumping we are going to bake some cookies for Valentine’s Day. I’m sure I”ll dance around and sing Mickey’s “Hot Dog” song in my goofiest voice. You’ll laugh and say you love me. We’ll then settle down for a very grown up dinner of burgers and fries before getting Wyatt settled in for the night. Once he’s asleep there is a glorious bottle of wine waiting for us. Earlier in our relationship we would have drunk the whole bottle while we chatted about everything and watched some serious TV. Now we’ll be falling asleep at 9:30 after one glass. 

To most, that may seem like a boring way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend. But I repeat, there is no other way I’d want to spend my Saturday night. 

These days life is messy but oh so sweet. These small moments together are what I know I will treasure years from now. I take hundreds of photographs but none of them can capture what this life means to me. It’s hard to measure this type of happiness.

One thing is for sure, my definition of romance has changed.

Romance is the way you always take the baby and let me sleep in on the weekends. I never knew an empty and quiet bed could be so wonderfully lovely. 

Romance is the way you always clean up the dishes after every meal.

Romance is watching Wyatt’s face light up when you come home from work.

Romance is the way you are trying to change habits that drive me nuts, like moving your shoes out of the front hallway so I don’t trip and break my neck every morning.

Romance is how your last words at night are no longer “I love you” but “Wake me up if you need anything” even though I never wake you up when I’m up with Wyatt.

Romance is how there is no one else I can sit for hours and talk about every little thing Wyatt does.

Romance is hearing you read Brown Bear Brown Bear over and over again and never getting tired of it.

Romance is not rolling your eyes when I show you 15 photos of Wyatt that would look identical to most people and ask you which one is best. Daily.

Romance is how I find myself even more in love with you each and every day that we spend together as a family. 

My heart has been divided between two men yet it has never felt more whole.

Now let’s sneak up stairs and get some sleep!

Love, 

Katie

When Marriage is Hard

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When is marriage hard? Always. 

I think we are usually ashamed to admit when marriage is tough. I know I am. 

It’s not like I didn’t know this before diving into marriage. It’s not like I want to throw the towel in. It’s not that I don’t believe in marriage. 

I wouldn’t trade in my marriage for anything. Even on the days when I have red moments and all I think I want to do is be alone. 

But the fact is, marriage is hard. It’s one of the biggest risks you will ever take in life. Putting together two people from two different backgrounds for life with two different ways of dealing with conflict – it’s kind of crazy right? But with that crazy comes an unfathomable beauty….that sometimes gets lost in dark times.

Ryan and I have a hard time while he is gone at school and while under a lot of stress.  The past couple of weeks I have broken down to a girlfriends about marriage troubles. Every single one said she had been there. Here, I thought I was the weak one. That I was all alone in my troubles. There is comfort in knowing that we are not alone and I think we can all learn from one another. 

So,why don’t we share our hardships?

The moments where we feel unheard, misunderstood. When we just want to be selfish and not put the spouse first. When the other person surprises us and we feel like we don’t know them at all. 

It’s so much easier to share the good. To brag about your perfect weekends and the over the top romantic gestures. Sometimes you want to show everyone that you are OKAY and la-di-da ain’t love GRAND!

Truth: Ryan and I fight.

Of course we fight about countless stupid things that all cohabitating couples fight over:

The fact that there are 6 pairs of his shoes in the front entry way and I nearly break my neck carrying in the groceries. We fight that I don’t properly rinse of the dishes before loading them in the dishwasher. We fight when it takes 30 minutes to choose which movie to watch after a long Saturday. He wants to kill me when I leave 6 empty water glasses on my bedside table and I will scream if he squeezes the middle of the toothpaste tube again!

The silly things like that we usually end up laughing over. But there are the bigger issues too. The big choices, the dreams we sometimes have to sacrifice, the times when money is tight, sleep is nill, and hopes are squashed. The fights that lead to us asking ourselves, “Are we making the right choices?” The days that end in a big fiery ball of fury where every wrong word is said and you don’t think you have any more tears to cry. 

When you are stressed and feeling down, who is the first person you generally vent to or show anger towards? The spouse. Ryan and I are both guilty of pushing each other away in times of stress and sadness. Life is an ongoing lesson and I’m forever grateful to have Ryan as my co student for this education. But like all good students, we make mistakes along the way. 

Marriage brings out the worst and the best in me. It’s only been a short time, 1 year and 4 months, but it has taken me on an amazing journey. We’ve both changed since marriage, and for the good. I’m more humble, giving, selfless, loving, and hopeful because of my marriage. The crazy emotions in marriage are the same ones that make it absolutely beautiful. 

After the darkness descends, I always look at Ryan and know that although every choice we make may not be the best, I made the right choice in marrying him. We choose each other. Every day. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.  

Love can do amazing things, but that doesn’t make the dark days any less numbered. 

It’s okay to admit marriage is hard. There should be no fear in sounding as if you have any less love for you spouse in doing so. 

As I grow older, the more and more I learn how small this world is. Let’s share our stories and grow together. If you are going through tough times, even ones that last a day,  you are not alone. 
  

The Last First Day of School

Today is a big one. Today is Ryan’s LAST first day of school!

While all the mom’s were posting pictures of their cute kids headed off to their first day of school today, I couldn’t resist posting Ryan headed off to his first day of his last year of law school. Hallelujah!

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The last year. Still letting that sink in.

So begins another year of only seeing him on the weekends. Of being a constant cheerleader and a wizard-like budget maker.

 

When you’re in the depths of law school, with an overly anxious student that also works a full-time job and adds on Moot Court, and research and TA positions, and law journal, you think law school is going to last your entire life. It’s easy to get lost in the darkness and forget that this is going to just be a short period of your life. 

I’ve written about being married to a law student here and here. It’s tough. Many people are telling us these will probably be the toughest years of our lives. There’s still a lot of unchartered territory ahead. Two semesters, bar exam prep, taking the bar exam, and finding a job. 

As a couple, I think our biggest anxiety comes from the unknown. We are stuck in this “in between” patch of our lives. We have no clue where we will be living next year. Where he will get a job. How we will be paying off the excruciating amount of student loans. We’ve put things off. In our home, the phrase “After law school” is used as commonly as “coffee”. 

We made the most of this summer. Worries were but aside as much as possible and we unplugged and made each other a priority.

This past weekend you would think we’d do something fun and exciting to celebrate our last few days of freedom. No, we were out running errands, buying new shoes, hitting up Costco, and doing laundry, cooking meals for the week, and cleaning. Boring old married stuff. But I cherish doing those every day things with Ryan.

People warned me about marrying a law student. They said that the marriage would come second. That many marriages barely make it.

But I can’t imagine married life any other way. This is all I know. We’re a team. I’m happy to be married to a man who is passionate about his dream and is still supportive of mine. I don’t know how Ryan does it, how he slaves away at his job and also manages to put 100% into law school and still get amazing grades and accomplishment. Yes, I’m bragging. 

Sure I dream of the day when Ryan can come home at a reasonable hour, when we won’t be stressing about every bill, and when Ryan will be fulfilled in a career that he has worked hard for. But,  I like to think that these stressful days of pinching pennies, of saying yes to another dinner in while watching Netflix and no to a Saturday night out, of making the most of our time together will only strengthen our marriage. As cheesy as it sounds, love does win sometimes. 

I just need to remember that in the coming weeks when I’m feeling lonely and lost and like no amount of love can diminish Ryan’s stress and anxiety and like the days are longer than the weeks. We’ve got this! We’ve got this! We’ve got this! 

xoxo Katie

One-Year Anniversary Gifts – Paper

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On June 2, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Since I’ve decided to take the slow and easy approach to blogging this summer, I haven’t gotten around to recapping our Anniversary celebration in the Finger Lakes – that day shall come, but today I’m sharing our one-year wedding anniversary gifts!

Our way of celebrating was to take a long weekend to the Finger Lakes, aka wine country in NY. The trip was our main “gift” and way of honoring our anniversary and celebrating our love. However, we still wanted to commemorate with small gifts to each other as well. We decided that we will gift each other small anniversary gifts each year and following the traditional gift rules.

According to tradition, the first year wedding anniversary gift is to be made of paper. (You can view the traditional gifts for years 1-100 here).

We also gave each other a $50.00 budget max. 

I began thinking about what paper gift to give Ryan a few months ago. Tickets to an event? A nice framed photo of us? Restaurant gift certificate? I had already done the journal for our wedding. I wanted it to be heartfelt, sentimental, have meaning to both of us and also be of some use. Once I figured out the perfect gift, I simply couldn’t wait for Ryan to open it. It was going to be perfect for him. 

When it comes to opening gifts, Ryan has the patience of a 5-year old at Christmas. As we were packing up the car for our roadtrip he kept begging to open his gift now. He couldn’t wait.  Meanwhile I was anxious that my gift was not going to stand up next to his. He had told my best friend what he got me and she kept telling me it was “SO perfect!”. 

But wait we did. We opened our gifts on the eve of our anniversary, sitting on our deck overlooking the lake while sipping local wine. As soon as Ryan opened my gift he started laughing and said, “I can’t believe this! Open mine! Now!'”

If we need any other evidence that we are perfect for each other, the fact that our handmade paper gift were basically the same says it all. 

We both gifted each other artwork that incorporated the song lyrics of our first dance song, Michael Buble’s “Everything”.

Ryan contacted an Etsy shop and had this adorable print customized for me. The tree is made out of paper with the song lyrics printed on it. It was simply perfect! 

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For my gift to Ryan, I designed a large canvas with an excerpt of the song lyrics printed on it. We’ve been discussing a new gallery wall to go above our bed and I designed this with that wall in mind. 

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Great hearts love alike!!! 

What did you give for your first year anniversary? Do you follow the traditional rules?

xoxo Katie
 

 

Marriage is Like a Seesaw

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This coming Monday, Ryan and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary. To celebarte we’re taking a long weekend up in the beautiful Finger Lakes. This will be our second trip to the region this year and I can’t wait to relax by the water, drink wine, and reflect on this past year. And boy what a year. Somedays it feels like our wedding was just a month ago. Other days it feels like I’ve aged years since I was the anxious June bride.

One year ago I took one of the biggest risks of my life. I committed myself to my best friend and to love him unconditionally for the rest of my life.

No doubt love is a beautiful thing. Falling in love is the easy part. The part that is magical and makes your life feel like a fairy tale. Staying in love is a choice. Don’t hate me, but I don’t believe in soul mates or love at first sight. I think love is a decision, a constant piece of work and intent action. And sometimes it is hard.

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Of course I am no expert on marriage or love and these are simply my reflections on my relationship.

I love Ryan in a way I never knew I could love someone, and I’m amazed at how much our love can change in just one year. We have fun, we laugh, we smile, and we are certainly silly together. Yet, their are days when I can’t stand him. (as there are days when he can’t stand me either!) Some days he is just the man who leaves the dirty peanut butter knife in the sink and who scrubs the bathrooms spotlessly (never enough thank yous for that one!) There are days when I simply want to be alone. Those days when the idea of talking to anyone else or sharing the couch and bed with someone make me want to runaway. 

Then other days, and these days are far more plentiful, I wake up smiling, happy that I get to live another day as his wife. Beyond grateful that our joys are doubles because they are shared. He is my teammate, my conspirator, my built in best friend. We make each others heartaches endurable, we make fun times more fun, and we make the love we see in the movies seem trivial to what we have.

One of my favorite phrases to think is, “I’ll be right here”. No matter what, ever day, I’ll be right here. Always the number one priority. That is a promise I make. That is a choice I continue to make. 

Over the past year I’ve come to see love and marriage like a seesaw.

Ryan and I chose each other as partners on the seesaw on the playground, we were best friends and could think of anything more fun than sitting facing eachother on the playground, having a blast every day. We each took our designated seats, smiled at each other and thought, “This is going to be fun!” We were both excited for the joy and the thrill the seesaw would bring us as well as the fact that we got to have this fun together. 

Who doesn’t love the seesaw?  You have that butterfly feeling in your stomach as you’re flying up and down and sometimes you get that thrilling bounce, where you’re popped of the seat at the top, when you partner decides to make that day extra fun for you. It’s full of unexpecting surprises. The speed, height, and fun you will have lies in the hands of your partner. You have to trust him to do what is best for you, or simply be content with what he brings to the table. 

Like marriage, both partners have to put in equal work. The seesaw will go nowhere if neither or only one partner is doing all of the pushing. Even on days when you’re tired and just want to play alone, you still must put in the work to make the seesaw work efficiently. And even on those days, I bet you’ll be happy you chose the seesaw over a solo day on the swings. Once you see the smile of your partner as he soars to the top of the seesaw a day spent alone is unimaginable.

It isn’t always thrilling. It’s fa fact that while on a seesaw one partner will always be up while the other is down. Such is life. You can’t be equals 100% of the time. But just when one partner helps the other get up to the top, where the views are splendid and the work is easy that same partner will come down and help the other rise to the same bliss. You work together to acheive a mutual happiness. Giving love is always better than receiving love.   

Currently our seesaw is in pretty good shape, being only a year old and all. As it ages I understand that the highs and lows will only increase. But I truly believe the highs will always outshine the lows. There is nothing that fills my stomach with butterflies than the expectation and hopes of what the future holds for Ryan and me. Yes, marriage and love can be scary but jumping on the seesaw with Ryan is a choice I won’t regret. As my heart grows so does my choice to love him more and more. 

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xoxo Katie

 

 

Why We Work

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, Bonnie, from The Life of Bon, and Taylor, from The Daily Tay, ganged up for a love themed link up – encouraging others to write about why they and their partner “work”.

After deciding to participate I just kept muttering to myself “Why do Ryan and I work as a married couple?” over, and over, and over. I kept trying to recall that one magic moment when everything clicked and fireworks went off and I know we were just perfect for each other. Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t believe moments like that exist. No one is perfect for each other.

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While I repeatedly asked myself the question, “Why do we work?” I couldn’t help but envision a well oiled factory machine with many complex parts all working together perfectly to create a flawless and productive product. This analogy may work for some couples (or maybe just in fairy tales?) but my marriage to Ryan is nothing like that.

We are two separate machines and unlike a well-engineered piece of factory equipment, our parts don’t always line up perfectly or complete each other. We don’t work because there is some magic chemistry between the two of us or because it was our destiny to end up together. We work because we work at being together. And it is hard work.

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Not only are we two separate machines, but Ryan and I are often working in two separate factories miles and miles apart. Yet, with communication our two independent factories work together attempting to create a product that will please the other and create a joint profit. Somedays I will create a product with just the hopes of making Ryan’s day, while others I hope that the product I’m creating will work well with the one that he is simultaneously creating for me.

There are days when all lines of communication are down and our attempts are complete failures. We’ll end up creating two useless items. I’ll create a TV remote and he’ll create a picture frame. They are both fine and dandy, but what is a remote with out a TV and a frame with out a picture? These two items are useless alone and they will never be productive together. Failure day at the factories.

Those days are the worst, like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and they are often filled with tears, resentment, and mean words. But no matter what, you are never going to get that TV remote and that picture frame to work together. It’s best to just say goodnight and go to bed. (yes, going to bed angry “works” for us) That TV remote and picture frame will usually be gone by morning and we can get back to work at making something else.

Other days we surprise ourselves and create two separate products that are essential to one another, like a lightbulb and a lamp. You can’t have one with out the other can you? These days far outweigh the bad ones. They, like the lightbulb, ignite our love and give us hope which we use to light the way through those darker failure days. But these days take hard work.

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It’s hard work fitting two different people doing two different jobs together for life. There are days when we both want to quit, that we both want to push the reset button and go back to our factory settings of default. When our machines are in default mode we always come first, we don’t have to think about another person’s needs or ideas. Ryan and I work because we don’t believe in hitting the “reset to default” button. Instead, of the “default button” we select the buttons labeled with words like respect, sympathy, kindness, and patience.

It takes work to be patient when Ryan is dead tired and as grumpy as a toddler. It takes work for Ryan to not jump to conclusions as to why I’m being quiet or distant when I just need some space. It takes work to be understanding when Ryan forgets an important date because he has 5 billion things going on inside his head. It takes work for Ryan to be kind when I forget to rinse out my dirty dishes before putting them in our inadequate dishwasher (once again). It’s the constant little acts of kindness that makes us work.

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We work because at the end of the day our two separate machines have churned out a plentiful array of products. Yes, some are disasters, but others are productive and beautiful. Together the good and the bad create a beautiful work of art. To others it may look like an abstract mess, but to us it is a masterpiece. It depicts our love, our life’s work and tells our story. As with any piece of art, Ryan and I will always view it with a different perception and take away a different meaning. But by choosing to simultaneously admire and to put value in the same piece of work day in and day out; that is what makes us work.

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Love Lessons

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Last Saturday morning Ryan and I were in the car, out for the morning running typical errands. We were in a rush to get a few boring but necessary tasks done before driving down to visit his family later that afternoon. We were sitting in silence listening to music.

As I looked over at Ryan I happily smiled to myself and thought how happy it made me to have him to share in the daily mundane, how even just a typical trip to the grocery store was now fun because we were doing it together. As my smile slowly turned into a little laugh.

Ryan turned over and asked, “What I was thinking about?”

What was my response? “Oh, just thinking about everything we have to do today.” I then critiqued the route he chose to take.

What?!

Why did I lie? Why did I hide what I was really thinking? Me, the girl who loves to talk about feelings, didn’t want to express her own? Looking back, I was being so cold.

I don’t understand why I didn’t express my love and gratitude to Ryan in the car that day. Or why on other nights when I miss him terribly I don’t express it to him. Is it because I just didn’t feel like it? That I didn’t want the back and forth banter of “oh I love you SO much” that can sometimes feel overused and artificial? Because I was lazy? Because I wanted him to say something like that to me first?

I know that every single one of those reasons is totally immature and selfish. I’m not perfect.

If there is one universal truth about marriage it is this: Marriage takes a lot of hard work.

In the busyness of everyday it is sometimes hard to remember that such little expressions of love can go a long way. Sometimes it’s just hard to take that extra step. In hindsight it seems unnaturally cold to not do so. Why would I not want to lift my husband up higher, to make him happier?

I’ve never been so sure of anything as I am for my love for Ryan. Yes, we are very different and have different needs. Hearing me vocally express my gratitude and love for him sporadically like that in the car make him smile his big charming smile and make his day. But in my head, I didn’t express it because I think, “oh he knows I love him, he doesn’t need to hear it AGAIN”. But no, he does need to hear it.

Thinking this over made me think of the 5 Languages of Love book by Garry Chapman. It outlines five ways to express and experience love  called “love languages”: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts ofservice, and physical touch. Understanding yours and your partners can help your relationships communication and growth. You can take a 3 minutes test to find out you language. 

Unlike Ryan, I don’t thrive off of hearing the words, “I love you” over and over. Of course I love him and of course I like affirming words of love at times. But, I don’t need to hear it daily. Instead, I thrive off of little acts of service. For instance, my heart melted on Sunday night. I was upstairs working away in the office all afternoon. Around 7 p.m. Ryan came upstairs and surprised me with a cosmo in my favorite martini glass. He took me downstairs and said “why don’t you pick out one of your favorite romantic movies for us to watch together, it’s time for you to relax.” I fell in love a little bit more with my husband at that moment.

I love when he notices that I need a little help around the house, or when I come home and the kitchen is spotless, or he realizes we are out of paper towels and picked some up on the way home. It makes me feel loved because it makes me feel noticed and appreciated. It makes me feel like he is present. I need to tell him that.

Life gets busy. Ryan and I both do things that irritates the other. We both can be highly critical and end up wanting to pull our hair out. But wouldn’t those moments be easier to extinguish with a simple act of love? Wouldn’t they have less chance of turning into a fight or a grudge? Communication isn’t hard, just take the time to do it. Wouldn’t we both be happier?  Why not choose that?

I need to remember to vocalize those happy little inner thoughts that I’m having about Ryan. I need to show my gratitude vocally when he does little acts of kindness from me. I need to give him the love he knows how to best receive. How else can we expect our marriage and our love to grow?

We all need love. There is no doubt that it is complex. Everyone will have a different definition of what love is to them. So, my thoughts, even if I think they are little, or not that important, or silly, may make Ryan feels full of love.

Open up and share, love is all around, you just have to learn to give and receive it in the best way – a lifetime learning process.

If you haven’t already – go take the test and find out your love language!

xoxo Katie