5 Things At the Moment

5 Things At the Moment

Life has felt overwhelming lately.  In both the best ways, and some really tough ways.  I sit down to write and nothing comes out.  I don't know where to start with all of these thoughts swirling around in my head.  Some of them I'm not able to say out loud yet, others just sound repetitive.  So instead I walk away.  I take a break.  And somehow I find myself back here three weeks later feeling the same.  So instead, here's a run-down of things in my head...

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The Good Dads

I can hear the laughter through my closed door, over my music.  It's that kind of guttural belly laugh that makes people stop in their tracks, a grin spreading across their face.  Because you can't NOT smile at a child laugh.  It's so innocent, so completely pure, so in the moment that it takes you back to your own childhood.  That's the sound I hear coming from the living room as I'm settling in for an hour to work.  And I'm immediately grinning.

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I married one of the good guys.  You know the ones, you see them out in public, completely attuned to the needs of their wives, their families.  From the moment we started dating, I knew Brandon was one of the good ones.  My friends knew he was one of the good ones.  My family knew he was one of the good ones.  There was never a question of that.  I lucked out.  I married a man who puts my needs above his own, who does everything in his power to make me smile, who kisses my forehead every morning before he leaves for work while I'm still sleeping.  I never wondered if he would be a good husband.  It was just a known fact.  Brandon is a good husband.

Parenthood can be a different thing, though.  Suddenly you're not catering to a (mostly) rational human being.  You're dealing with a child.  And children scream, cry and get angry for seemingly no reason.  They are wild, unpredictable, and a lot of work.  But I still knew in my heart that Brandon would be good at this, too. 

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When Henry was born, things were hard - as any new parent will tell you.  He had reflux that originally went undiagnosed, he was constantly sick from daycare, he had ear infection after ear infection, he didn't sleep through the night for the first 13 months of his life.  He was tough.  He was a smiling, happy baby.  But he was still tough.  

It was tough on Brandon and I.  I think we had more fights during that first year than we ever had.  But it was more out of frustration and just not knowing, than about anything else.  We were both struggling through lack of sleep, lack of knowledge, and it felt like there was no end in sight.  But even through all of that, Brandon continued to be a good husband and a good dad.  

He got up in the middle of the night nearly every night - even once he went back to work - just so that I could get extra sleep.  While I nursed, he asked what he could do, or what he could get me.  He fell asleep with Henry on his chest in the rocking chair more times than I can count so that I could have a little peace to take a shower or get some much needed rest.  He fed him, he changed diapers, he cleaned up vomit - all of those things a parent should do, he did, and it was never a question that he wouldn't.  I've had girlfriends whose husbands assumed that was all "women's work", but that was never a thought that passed through Brandon's head.

Brandon is a good man.

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And these days, as Henry has gotten older, the good dad has turned into a great dad.  He's chasing Henry around the house with a blanket tied around his neck, fashioned like a cape.  He's sitting on the floor putting together puzzle after puzzle.  He's encouraging Henry to be brave when Henry throws himself off the couch into Brandon's arms.  He's teaching him how to stand just so to really knock that baseball off the tee.  He's praising Henry as he swims to him in the pool.  And he's comforting him when Henry's three-year-old-ness catches up with him and he has a meltdown for no reason.  He is there for all of it.  Through all of the really high highs and the really low lows of parenting, Brandon is there for it.  He is a great dad.

We've been trying...

There's something that's been weighing on me for awhile now and I think it's been blocking me from actually being able to come to this space that I love and write.  Because it felt like I wasn't being honest about life or about what's going on with me.  And now, I've made a promise to my pal Mia that I was going to get back to writing.  Writing for me, and if anyone is interested in reading my words, writing for you, too.  But it feels like I can't do that until I'm honest about where I'm at.

The thing is, B and I have been trying to get pregnant with baby number two since last August.  

It feels good to type that out.  To admit it.  Especially when I haven't admitted it to many people in my life.  A few of the people who ask us when baby number two is coming have gotten the honest answer that "we're working on it", but I haven't said much more.  But now it's starting to weigh on me, especially as the creator of a magazine that is all about honesty.

So I wanted to admit it.  I wanted to get it out there.  I wanted to tell you that I'm frustrated and sad and frustrated some more.  

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We got pregnant with Henry within three weeks of me being off birth control.  He was definitely planned, but we didn't quite expect it to happen that quickly.  Especially since doctor's always tell you it can take awhile for the birth control to work itself out of your system.  So he was still a surprise to us.

This time we weren't ready, and we weren't ready, and we weren't ready.  And then one day we were ready.  I stopped birth control at the end of July 2016.  I didn't expect it to happen right away, but I figured by the end of the year we'd be pregnant.  But it didn't happen.  And then it continued to not happen.

March came around and I turned 34 and that month I was convinced I was pregnant.  So convinced that I wanted to have a "last celebratory glass of wine" before I took a test.  I was so convinced that for the first time when I got my period, I was very sad about it.  And that's when we decided to actually start trying.  Before we had just been going about our business, assuming it would happen and not putting any thought into it.  

But now, I'm starting to do those things that the doctors tell you to - tracking ovulation, watching what I eat, all of those things that are supposed to help you get there.  But month after month, it's still not happening.  And now the frustration is kicking in.

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We've had the "what if Henry is the only one" talk.  And my answer is, I'm okay with that.  I so love our family of three.  But at the same time, I can't help wondering what life would be like with four of us.  I know Henry would be an amazing big brother, and I want that experience for him.  And truth be told, the more time goes on, the more I want to see him in that role.  

When we had Henry, I didn't think he would be our last, so I didn't take those mental snapshots that maybe I should have.  I didn't take that snapshot of the way his little head fit so snugly into Brandon's hand.  Or the endless nights of rocking him back to sleep when all else was quiet in the house except for the squeak of the chair.  Or the last time that he fell asleep on my chest, as I rubbed his back.  Those are all things that I want to experience again.  Just one more time.

So now I'm putting it out there.  We are trying.  We are trying for baby number two.  And maybe letting go the burden of not admitting it out loud will allow it to happen.

Deal breakers

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Recently I got to thinking about deal breakers.  Those things that keep some relationships from advancing while others plow full steam ahead into the future.  When I met my husband, I didn't know I was meeting MY HUSBAND.  I hadn't planned to fall in love and I'm pretty certain he felt the same way.  We weren't in that mindset, and yet it happened anyway.  He had come into my heart when it wasn't really open - and a lot of that had to do with meeting my subconscious deal breakers.  The ones that I didn't really know were there.

My deal breakers are pretty straightforward and simple, and also fairly uncompromising.

+ He must be tolerant.

I am a huge supporter in letting people live life the way they want to live their lives.  We only get one, so why spend it in any way that doesn't feel the best?  I do, and I think everyone else should get to as well.  If my partner didn't feel the same way?  Deal breaker.  B and I are both huge supporters of the LGBTQ community and fair rights are something that is important to us both.  In addition to that, it was hugely important to me that the father of my child be tolerant.  If Henry would ever come to us and tell us he was in love with a man, B and I would both be as excited as if he had told us he was in love with a woman.  And that is huge to me.

+ He must allow me to dream.

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I'm a dreamer.  I have big, big plans for my future and have a tendency to jump from one dream to another.  I need someone who allows me to do that, who encourages my dreams, who supports them all.  And lucky for me, B does just that.  I can only assume it must be exhausting for him at times, but I've never heard anything but support from him.

+ He must be a hands on parent and shuck "traditional" roles.

I've never been one for traditional roles in a marriage, or in parenting.  I believe things should be equal, that we should share responsibilities.  Especially in light of the fact that we both work full-time.  Again, this is something that B is on board with as well.  He doesn't expect me to cook (he actually does the majority of the cooking), clean, and take care of the baby.  We share these jobs.  And he is incredibly hands on as a parent.  I've never had to ask him to get up in the middle of the night, or to change a diaper.  He does it because he's also the parent and doesn't believe it should all fall to me.  Plus, he just really likes his kid.

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Those are my three deal breakers.  And though they wouldn't be important to everyone, they're important to me.  But I'm curious, what are YOUR deal breakers?  

Exactly What I Needed

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We were sitting down for dinner having the kind of mindless conversation that are our normal dinnertime conversations.  We were laughing at something Henry was doing, or talking about the day we had had swimming, or mentioning that dieting is for the birds.  But we were just chatting.  Brandon asked me what my plan was for the night and I told him, without wanting to tell him, that I could really use some time to work - that I needed to wrap up the design of Issue 8 and that I just wasn't getting anywhere with it.  I didn't want to say those words because I feel like I'm always saying those words, "I need to work".

Being the husband of an entrepreneur cannot be an easy thing.  I'm as present as I can be, but I'm sure he knows my mind is always somewhere else on those other things that I need to be doing.  Those times at night when we're sitting there "watching TV" together but I'm really on my computer working.  Or when we're gone for a weekend and I'm in my own head thinking of all the things I need to do when I get home.  It can't be easy.  I only have so much of myself to give and I'm already running pretty thin.  I'm an employee, and I'm a mom, and I'm a business owner, and I'm trying to have some time for myself to exercise.  So where in that does my husband fit?  Where do I fit in that I'm a wife, too?

And yet, I never hear a complaint from him.  I never hear him groan when I say, "I need to do some work" and then he's in charge of keeping Henry entertained for awhile.  I don't see him roll his eyes when he comes home and I'm on the computer and Henry is reading to himself.  Even though I want to roll my eyes at myself.  But he doesn't, he never does.

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That night when he asked me what my plans were and I said, "I need to work", he simply told me okay, that he was going to clean up the kitchen and that I should just go downstairs and get started.  So I did.  I went downstairs and my desk light was turned on and shining a spotlight on a card that read "Sarah" on the front.  I smiled before I opened it.

On the inside he told me how proud of me he was and how it was amazing to watch me this last year fulfill this dream I've always had.  And I just sat there for a second dumbfounded and swelling with love at the same time.  All of those nights when I felt like I was failing at life because I was stretching myself between all of the different hats I was wearing - he didn't see it that way.  He saw me busting my ass at this business of mine.  He saw me as "talented and determined" when I saw myself as a failure.  And tears filled my eyes the more I thought of it because he truly believes in me and it's exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.

So, with the renewed faith in what I'm doing, I put the card next to a few others that I've received pushing me to do more, and I opened up my laptop and got to work.  As the footsteps and the laughter and the playing happened over my head - something that would often reduce me to feeling like that's what I should be doing instead of this - I worked for an hour and a half on building this dream.  A dream that my husband wants to be successful for me as much as I do.

And now as I write this, I can feel those tears again because this husband of mine always manages to see the good in me, even when I have a hard time seeing it in myself.

Piece by Piece

­It's been no secret that I didn't have a good relationship with my father while growing up.  He was largely absent from my life (and the lives of my four siblings).  At some point we've all come to the point of forgiveness (in whatever form that may take on for each of us), and accepted the relationship that we've had.  Since I've become a parent I've strangely found myself forgiving him even more (though it should be said that my husband feels the opposite about this - in that he can't imagine a parent not wanting to be present for their child).  And since becoming a parent, my father has been more active in Henry's life, been interested in what he's up to, how he's doing, and wanting to spend time with him when he is in town - a fact that is also confirmed by my sister.

But occasionally, the feelings that I had while growing up resurface.  The feelings of inadequacy, wondering why my father didn't want to be with me.  Remembering writing him letters asking him why he didn't want me.  These feelings can be triggered by any number of things, and I can find myself with tears streaming down my face without warning.  Most recently the feelings were triggered by the Kelly Clarkson song "Piece by Piece" that my sister insisted I listen to.  The song is a beautiful testament to the love that her husband has shown her - that has reignited the faith that fathers can, and want to, be there for their children.

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But piece by piece he collected meUp off the ground where you abandoned things, yeahPiece by piece he filled the holesThat you burned in me at six years oldAnd you know,He never walks awayHe never asks for money,He takes care of meHe loves mePiece by piece he restored my faithThat a man can be kind and a father could... stay

You hear often that women choose men just like their fathers.  I can say that has been completely untrue for my sister and I.  We both chose to marry great men.  Men who are there for their children, who support their wives, who want nothing more than to be a family.  We have found in our husbands exactly what Kelly Clarkson sings in her song - great men, great fathers.

Each time I see Henry and Brandon playing together, it warms everything in me.  To see Henry running at full speed towards his Daddy in a hug.  To hear him laugh as Brandon tickles him or does ridiculous things to make him laugh.  It's those things that I will never take for granted.  It's those things that give me joy for our future.  A future with Brandon on the sidelines of every game, play, or big event that Henry has in his life.  A future with Brandon teaching Henry how to be a man, a father.  A future with Brandon holding Henry as he faces heartbreak and failure.  He'll be there for each of those moments and Henry will always know how loved he is.

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Piece by piece I fell far from the treeI will never leave her like you left meAnd she will never have to wonder her worthBecause unlike you I'm going to put her firstAnd you know,He'll never walk away,He'll never break her heartHe'll take care of things,He'll love herAnd piece by piece he'll restore my faithThat a man can be kind and a father should be great

That Photo

That photo.  You know the one.  The one that is slightly out of focus but so perfectly captures your life and your heart at that moment that it instantly becomes your favorite.  It's the one that speaks volumes when you look at it, no matter what was actually happening in that moment.  That photo is the one that holds everything that you feel so dearly in your heart and puts it right there in front of you.  It's as if you could send it to someone you just met to say "this is who I am, now you know".

That's what this photo is to me.  It's blurry, it's got terrible lighting, neither of them are even looking at me, but it's exactly what I feel in my heart captured in a photo.  It's the greatest man I know, carrying the beautiful human that we made together.  It's the love between a father and a son.  It's the safety that our son feels with his daddy, and that I, in turn, feel with them both.  The way his chin is resting so easily on his daddy's head.  The way their hands are gently holding one another.  It's them.  And it's me.

We Hugged Today

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My husband and I hugged this morning.  And yesterday morning, and the morning before that.  Over the weekend, we even held hands a bit and he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and rubbed my back.

This probably isn't anything groundbreaking to people who are married, but it was for us.  We can sometimes find ourselves stuck in that parent rut where we go and go and go and forget that there is also an US.  We're parents and we're employees and we're homeowners and so sometimes being married gets pushed to the very, very back.

But recently we changed that and we started hugging.  And occasionally even a kiss here or there.  We're trying to remember who we are, who those people were that got us into this whole parenting "mess".  Because those two people were a lot of fun- they were hilarious, they played off each other, they laughed with tears in their eyes, they had smart conversations (and stupid conversations) and they did life together.

These two people in their place now, they're still doing life, but they're doing it in a routine, robotic, systematic way.  So we're working to change that.  And it starts with a hug, and sometimes a kiss.

Date Night With Two Tickets

I've mentioned before how hard it's been to raise Henry out in PA with no friends or family anywhere nearby (though luckily it's not quite as hard as some people have it!).  Henry's grandmas are doing their best to make it easier on us though- B's mom comes out every couple of weeks to keep Henry out of daycare for a couple of days to save us some money (daycare is CRAZY expensive, am I right?!).  And my mom comes once a month to let B and I have a date night.  This weekend was our date night and if you follow me on Instagram, you would've seen that it was one great night.

We started our night in Pittsburgh with a sightseeing cruise on the Gateway Clipper, the city's ferry company.  We've seen all of these places before but hadn't heard too much of the history behind them so it was fun for us.  The not fun part?  When we got detoured for a half hour because of a severely drunk passenger who kept passing out.  Our ship had to dock near Heinz Field so an ambulance could come get her.  At least there was beer.

After that we took our time walking back to the other side of the city to our hotel.  We laughed and joked and took stupid pictures.  Pittsburgh is such a pedestrian friendly city and no matter where you're walking along the river, the views are insane.  Aside from Venice, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a more beautiful city.

We took our time at the hotel and then wandered around the city looking for dinner around 9:00.  This was also about the time that everyone that had been at the Pirates game were ALSO out looking for dinner so our options became limited unless we wanted to wait an hour+.  We didn't.  We finally settled on dinner at Six Penn which turned out to be such a good choice.

By the time we were done with dinner it was close to 11 and because we're old and have lost our ability to party, we decided we had done enough drinking and made our way back to our hotel to have cheesecake in bed.  And because we were given two full beds instead of one King like we had reserved, we ended up sleeping in separate beds at my request.  A bed ALL to myself where I could stretch out and not listen to anyone snoring in my ear?  Heaven.  Until B's phone went off at 6:45 a.m. and now we're divorced.

I also want to take a second to talk about this outfit because what would this post be without an outfit recap?  I complained in front of my closet for a good 20 minutes before we left because I didn't know what I wanted to wear.  I wanted to be comfortable because I knew we'd be doing a ton of walking, but I recently went through a closet purge and all of my "nicer" clothes are work clothes.  So eventually I put on destructed skinny jeans (Old Navy), and this shirt I got at J.Crew years ago and I was like "oh yeah, this is me".  It's nothing special, but it easily defines my style- classic with a slight edge.

I actually planned my outfit around this purse that I had been dying to use.  Amanda from Two Tickets sent it to me awhile ago and I fell in love with it immediately.  The super clean lines, plus black and white mixed with mint is so my style.  AND, it can be used three ways thanks to the removable strap.  The long strap makes it so you can wear it cross body style (which I did most of the day so my hands were free for holding), but you can also hold it as a top handle tote bag, AND it folds down to carry as sort of a European oversize clutch that all the kids are doing these days.  Aside from how beautiful her construction is, I love how roomy it is!  I had a spare pair of shoes, a sweater, my iPad, my wallet, sunglasses, and keys all in here and I still had room!  I'm excited to use it for toting around my laptop for work.  By the way, if you're a Holl & Lane reader, you might just find a coupon from Amanda to use on one of her bags.  I promise you, you won't regret it.  (Click here to see her shop.)

So, that was our date night.  I know I say this every time we have a date, but I'm so glad we have the opportunity to reconnect and remember why we're married in the first place.  B truly is my best friend and to have some time hanging with him in this city that we love so much is so priceless to me.

Go To Bed Angry

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I have marital advice for you, because after nearly three years of marriage I've obviously gotten it all figured out.  Here's my advice: go to bed angry.  I know people tell you specifically NOT to do that, but just hear me out.

I don't know about you but when I'm angry, I do one of two things: I either say things I don't mean, or I completely freeze up and stop talking- a veritable silent treatment.  Neither of these things are conducive to an argument that you want resolved.  I also don't do well when people are yelling at me.  In short, I'm not good at arguing.  I don't apologize quickly and I can hold a grudge for hours.  (I'm a real catch.)

So back to my point- I tend to go to bed angry.  This allows me to get away from the argument, cool down, and in the morning things tend to look a whole lot better.  And the thing that we were fighting about?  Either we realize it was really stupid, apologize and move on, or we're able to rationally discuss it with a clear head.  Things still get resolved in one way or another, but it stops us from saying things that might be hurtful in the heat of the moment.

So next time you're having a fight- just remember what I said and go to bed angry.  See if that works for you.  Things will still get worked out, but you'll be breathing a whole lot easier when they do.

Brandon if you're reading this, no, we didn't have a fight last night that you don't remember.  This is something I was thinking about this morning and of course had to impart my wisdom.

Marriage Vows

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A month or so ago I was talking with my mother-in-law about marriage vows, and particularly about the more difficult ones- the sickness part, the poor part. The parts that really and truly make up a marriage.  Can you imagine if marriage was always kisses and flowers and loving glances? The world might be a different place. But that isn't what marriage is. Marriage is the hard times. It is what determines if your marriage will survive or fail.

The conversation has really stuck with me because B and I seem to be in a constant state of flux in our marriage ever since we've become parents.  If you're a parent, you know what happens- you go into survival mode in that first year or two.  You're just trying to keep moving, trying to keep your eyes open, trying to keep this teeny tiny person alive.  And you can't let your work suffer because you can't lose your job.  And you can't drop the ball with your child, because that could mean his life.  So what takes a hit?  Your marriage.  You start to take each other for granted, you start to just become ships passing in the night.  Your conversations are only about the baby.  And that's where the hard part of the marriage vows come in.

You have to trust that those vows, the ones that you took so eagerly on your wedding day, will actually hold up now that you're in the throes of the bad times.  You're dealing with the sickness part- sickness of your baby, sickness that you catch from your baby.  You're dealing with the poor part, because honestly, who can actually afford children?  You're dealing with the parts of the vows that people mostly skip over because all they're thinking about as they're standing in front of all of those people is the sunshine and rainbows part- and whether or not he's going to smash the cake in your face.

But marriage is made up of struggles.  And you BOTH have to want to fight through those struggles to get to the happier times, to get back to a place where you're doing the kisses and the flowers and loving glances.  I've made it my resolve in the last few days to make sure to kiss my husband every day.  It sounds like such a simple thing for a marriage but I realized that it wasn't happening every day.  So that's my first step (that, plus date nights).  And I will keep pushing through when the days get dark, because this marriage of mine is so worth it.

Taking a Chance

We had moved in together just a few months prior when B came home one day to announce that there was a great job opening within his company that he was interested in.  It'd take him out of the field and into a supervisory position.  The only problem?  The job was near Pittsburgh.

Awhile before this day, I had taken B to Pittsburgh as a surprise birthday getaway.  We explored the city and went to a Steelers/Browns game, and as we stood on Mt. Washington, I distinctly remember saying "we should move to Pittsburgh".

So now, that option was here.  We could move.  We could start building our lives together in a completely new city.  Except, I didn't want to.

My initial reaction was "no".  And to think back now, I honestly don't know why that was, other than fear.  Fear because I had just gotten comfortable in Columbus, a city I had been dying to live in for a long time.  Fear because I was looking to move into a fashion career there in Columbus, also a dream of mine.  Fear because we had only been dating about a year, had moved in together less than three months before, and weren't engaged.  And fear because we didn't know anyone out there, much less knowing anything about the city.

So we debated, and I cried and I felt lost.  I didn't know what to do, I didn't know if I should take a chance and hope that life with B worked out.  I didn't know if I should stay behind, lose him, and try to find my own way in Columbus.  I didn't know if I should ask him not to apply for the job, making him stay in a position that he didn't want to be in anymore.  So I did what I always do and I called my sister in tears.

Her one question to me was "Can you see your life without him?"  

After talking with her, I sat down with B and we talked it through.  I told him my fears, and that my biggest was us not being engaged.  I told him I didn't need to be engaged before we moved, I just needed to know that that is where he saw us in the future.  He told me of course he saw us getting married, otherwise he wouldn't have asked to begin with.  We wouldn't have moved in together.  So I told him to apply.

A few weeks later I came home to find him on the computer, casually looking at apartment sites.  I asked him what he was doing.  "Oh, just looking for an apartment for us in Pittsburgh", he said.  It took me a second.  "You got the job?!"  He got the job!

And so our new lives began.  On a cold day in March, just days before my birthday, we moved into a two bedroom apartment outside Pittsburgh, with no friends or family nearby, and with no idea what the future would hold for us.

Marriage Is...

+ Turning the volume up extra loud when your favorite song comes on the radio, even if you haven't asked him to
+ Ignoring your hairy legs as he rubs up against them in bed
+ Kissing with morning breath
+ Sweaty hugs after the gym
+ Loving them even when you hate them
+ Grabbing your favorite snack for you even if you haven't mentioned being hungry
+ Pretending not to see the zit cream on your face as you crawl into bed
+ The relief you feel when they walk in the door at the end of a long day
+ A roll of the eyes when you talk about the coworker you don't like, just to commiserate
+ Someone knowing you better than you know yourself, in the most annoying way
+ Knowing the flaws of your spouse, and finding them endearing

What is marriage to you?

12 Months Of Date Night | April

I mentioned that this weekend was one of those that kept me smiling even after it was over.  One of the big reasons for this was because B and I got to go out and enjoy our April date.  My mom came to stay with Henry and B and I took off for Pittsburgh and a day of enjoying the beautiful weather and a little quiet time. It's been an interesting month with Henry and this night of ours was long overdue.  We both needed time away, to be grown ups, to be with each other, to do whatever we wanted without having to worry about a tiny little person and what he might need.  We got to hold hands, and drink beers, and NOT share our food.

Giving B a booklet of 12 months of dates has been one of my favorite things to date.  What at first felt cheap and like a boring gift has turned out to be one of the things that we most look forward to.  As any parent will tell you, you can love those little creatures more than life itself, but still, you need time away from them.  You need to remember that before you were parents, you had each other.  Had I not been so set on doing these dates each month, I'm not sure we would've made the time.  So no matter how hard the times are, at least once a month I can look forward to being with my best friend.

We started the day with Mongolian BBQ. Not the fanciest of meals, but guys- BUFFET.  Also, we don't get to have it very often, especially when we don't have to share it.

My favorite date.

And then we headed over to the ballpark where we got some beers, sat on the sidewalk and just people watched.  I don't know what it is about being able to legally drink in the street, but it makes beer taste better I'm convinced.

If you've never been to PNC Park, it's a must see.  It has the most amazing views of the river and the city.  I tell you, there's no more beautiful park.  By the way, the Pirates beat the Brewers 6-2!

After the game, Zambelli lit up the sky with an INSANE fireworks show.  They go all out for these things.  It's like the 4th of July on a regular Saturday night and is one of my absolute favorite things about living out here.  Watching the fireworks explode over the city, my head rested on my husband's shoulder- my heart was so full.

And what would a date night be without a late night stop at Sheetz?  I mean seriously, those people have EVERYTHING.

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Also, in the interest of bringing attention to this very real affliction, I present to you this picture my husband took of me.  In all of my resting bitch face glory.  The disease is powerful and the struggle is real.  My name is Sarah, and I suffer from resting bitch face.  I didn't actually hate that beer, although it may appear so.  That's just how my face is.

PS... Because I'm sure you're all like WHAT ABOUT MARCH'S DATE?! We had one, and it was glorious. We went out with some of our closest friends to celebrate my birthday. And then my mom got us a hotel room so we could sleep ALL NIGHT and then SLEEP IN. Obviously that was the best part. But I didn't get any pictures and a blog post without pictures of my face is so boring.

Marriage Isn't Easy

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As I'm sure you've gathered from my previous posts, being a parent isn't the easiest job in the world.  Incredibly worth it, but really hard.  (And I didn't just add that little anecdote because I "had" to- I honestly believe it's totally worth every sleepless night.)  What seems to be the hardest though, at least for me, is maintaining some semblance of a marriage while being a parent.  Especially a parent of a young child.

B and I have had an uptick in our spats lately.  Little things were getting blown out of proportion more often.  Feelings were being hurt.  Feeling appreciated was hard to come by.  In short, marriage just wasn't easy.  Did it have anything to do with the months on end of no sleep, and stressful days with a sick, teething baby?  I'm positive that was the main culprit.  But we can't blame the baby (though I'm fairly certain that's what they're for).  We just lost sight of who we are as a couple.  We just became parents to our little boy and forgot about our marriage.

I know it happens, and it happens often.  You get so wrapped up on what is going on with your child that you don't have anything left to give to your spouse.  And though I knew it was happening, I was too tired to do anything about it.  And then after a recent spat that was just so ridiculous, I realized that we had gotten to a place that we needed to fix.  We couldn't keep spiraling in the direction that we were.  We needed to stand up and remember that without the two of us, there would be no baby, so we better take care of us.  After an apology text from B (who, in all honesty, had nothing to apologize for), I sent back "I think we need to do a better job of focusing on our marriage".  And luckily, he immediately knew what I meant and obviously felt the same way.  He said that we had gotten to the point of just being parents.  The one thing I had always dreaded about having children.  Before we decided to start a family, I told him my biggest fear was that we wouldn't be us anymore.  And it seemed that my fear was becoming a reality.

So, we're trying to turn it around.  We're trying to be intentional with each other.  We're trying to see each other as more than just "the other person who takes care of the baby".  And it's hard, because we're both still so tired.  And we work all day, and that in itself is stressful enough.  Add to it a teething, non-sleeping baby and that's a recipe for disaster and neglect.  But we're trying.  It isn't easy when we don't have family nearby to drop the baby off for an impromptu date night, but we'll figure out ways around that.  And it's started with little things.  A kiss when B gets home from work.  A hug while we're making dinner.  Sitting together and watching a show at the end of the night.  A text here or there just to say hi and I love you.  A hand squeeze across the table.  A "date night" to the grocery store when we have someone to watch Henry for a couple hours.

I'm trying to spend my time more wisely.  I'm trying to remember that above everything else, I'm a wife and a mother.  If my blog doesn't get updated one day, or I wait to answer emails until the next morning, the world isn't going to end.  Everything I've worked so hard for isn't going to come crashing down.  But if I continue to neglect my marriage?  I don't want to think about the ramifications of that.

12 Months of Date Nights | February

11042958_831563666909043_3052084850720069771_n You know when Mother Nature swoops in and screws up your plans and you can't really forgive her so you still kind of hold a grudge?  That's what's happening right now.  But alas, I shall move on.  I mentioned before that for Christmas I made B a book of one date night for each month for the entire year so that we could make sure we're taking time for ourselves at least 12 times this year.  12 days out of 365 ain't bad when you have a small child, right?  Anyway, our February date night was dinner and a movie.  And let me tell you, we were EXCITED.  My mom offered to come and babysit Henry so that we could go see our first movie in years (I'm not exaggerating, it's been years)- and it happened to correspond with Valentine's Day.  Win/win, right?  Not so, says Mother Nature (bitch).

We debated over the movie, finally settling on American Sniper (how romantic), and then we found a restaurant that was offering a great deal on a 2 person dinner that included CHAMPAGNE.  If there's one thing I won't turn down it's free champagne.  I drink it with my pinky out, because it feels necessary.  So I ordered the movie tickets online the week before so that we wouldn't have the hassle of standing in line and/or the movie being sold out.  I picked out an outfit that I knew B would like.  We cleaned up the guest room so my mom would have a nice place to sleep. And we prepared for a romantic night away.

And then Mother Nature decided it all sounded too ridiculous and unleashed a monster snow and ice storm on us.  No movie for you!  So because my mom lives over 3 hours away, she wasn't able to make the trek (though she DID actually try until she realized just how dangerous it was).  I was bummed, B was bummed, my mom was bummed.  And because this has been the winter of never ending snow, I felt a bit stabby.  B promised we'd make it a great night anyway so he bought us steaks (his are better than any restaurant anyway) and surprised me with a bottle of champagne.  We rented Boyhood since I had been dying to see it and we hung out in our pajamas after Henry went to bed.

So it may not have been the date night I had envisioned, but I'm thankful I have a husband who will go to whatever lengths he can to make a day special to me, even if we're stuck inside.

As a side note, a couple weeks later we DID get a chance to go out for the night to celebrate my little brother's 30th birthday.  And though there wasn't steak, champagne, or movies, I'm going to go ahead and count it as our second successful date night of February.

A Whole Lotta Love

I'm not normally one to celebrate Valentine's Day.  In the past, B may have bought me flowers and we may have gone out to dinner, but it isn't a big holiday to me like it is to some.  This year it would've passed right by us again had it not been for my mom offering to come babysit so we could go out and enjoy our February Date Night.  So that's what we're doing tonight, we're braving the crowds and going out for dinner and a movie.  Not because it's Valentine's Day, but because it's parents night out!  HOWEVER, it IS Valentine's Day, and recently B told you guys some really sweet things that he loves about me, so I figured now is as good a time as any to tell you what I love about HIM.

He's so funny.  Like, really, really funny.  And even if I pretend not to like his dumb jokes, I'm still laughing on the inside (I hope he isn't reading this).  His hugs are all encompassing.  He wraps me up and I feel warm and safe and I never want him to let go.  I love watching him as a father, especially as Henry gets older.  He's so excited to play and teach him and I just KNOW Henry is going to idolize him growing up.  Brandon is also a romantic at heart.  He brings me flowers for no reason, he texts or emails me to just say hi, and he always asks me how my day was.  He tells me I'm beautiful all the time, even when I couldn't feel less so.  He makes me feel calm when I'm feeling anything but- just by holding my hand.  And he's SO supportive of everything I want to do in life.  He wants to make sure all of my dreams come true, no matter how crazy they may seem.  He's my biggest fan and I know he always has my back.  And last but not least, he's hot.  In dress clothes, in sweatpants, he's so, so handsome.  I'm proud every time I walk into a room with him.  I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that he is my very best friend and I'm thankful every day that he chose me.

I also asked my pals over on Facebook what it is that they love about their significant other.  I really loved reading the responses and wanted to share them here:

"His sense of humor and taste in music. Nobody else I know can go from Faith Hill and Tim McGraw to WuTang or start out listening to Rick Ross and finish out the playlist with Heart." - Amy C.

"His sense of humor, and the amount of love he has for me and our ninja!" - Shana B.

"How much he loves our kids. How hard he works for our family so that I can stay home with our kids." - Jodi G.

"That she tolerates my idiotic hobbies and dreams." - Lucas S.

"The way he makes me laugh so hard, I snort." - Crystal A.

"How much he makes me laugh! And that he always thinks I'm beautiful." - Joy S.

"When we partied, he was a happy drunk, loved kids, and had great looking legs." - Kay S.

"He holds my hand when we sleep!" - Tracey T.

"Selflessness" - Stephanie J.

"He just gets me....the bad, the good, the crazy. When I'm having a hard time he sends me to starbucks by myself with a book. It's the little things when life is hard, and you're surrounded by your kids. It's those times when you know they love you the most. That is what I love most about him." - Rheanna C.

"He's forgiving and understanding." - Jessica S.

"I love my husband because he took the time to understand me. I love the way he smells after working on our new home. The way he smiles at me and only me. The way we can look across the room and know exactly what the other is thinking. I love his stories, jokes, past, present and most of all our future!" - Sara S.

"He makes me feel safe. He's a police officer, so it comes naturally to him, but he would make me feel that way even if he wasn't...and his blue eyes!" - Jenny K.

"He takes care of me but when he's not around I love him!! He surrounds me with that special feeling of being wanted!!!!!!!" - Lori H.

"His sense of humor, ability to make me smile and the sacrifices he makes so that our girls are home with us and not at daycare." - Kelly S.

"He grounds me and makes everything feel like it will be okay. He is an ideal counterpoint to everyday craziness and the sweetest man I have ever met." - Kimiko S.

"She sees the best in everybody no matter how hard she tries not to. She laughs at my dumb jokes. She tries her best. She brings out my best. She's my hero." - Arliss S.

"He loves me unconditionally and tells me I'm beautiful every day!!" - Joy S.

"He tells me I'm beautiful every day. He will try to find a way to make all my dreams come true. Right now, I'm lucky enough to be able to stay home with our boys (now you know why #1 is so impressive; I've gone months without makeup ). He cries in movies (commercials, tv shows; big joke he's the woman, I'm the man) he has so much love for our boys + me. These are a few of my favorites." - Kerry S.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  

I hope no matter if you're married or single that your day is full of love.

 

12 Months of Date Nights | January

Brandon and I didn't do Christmas presents this year.  With the purchase of our house, there was absolutely nothing that either of us really needed or even wanted.  Everything we need is for the house.  So instead of spending money on pointless things, we just skipped the gifts this year.  But I still wanted to do something to show that I appreciated him and all that he does for Henry and I.  I also wanted to get back a bit of the magic in our marriage. In comes 12 Months of Date Nights.  I created a little book that has one date for us to go on per month.  For one night a month we get to go out and just be us again.  For January our date was a couple's massage which we both desperately needed.  So that's what we did last night.  We met up after work (my mother-in-law is here watching Henry), and had a couple's massage at our favorite spa.  It wasn't something over the top exciting, but it was time for just B and I to be together and get to relax and not have to worry about anything else.  And that's really what date nights are all about, right?

Our February date is dinner and a movie and since it's been at least a year since we've been to a movie, let's just say that we're pretty excited about it.

 

Our date started at Toys R Us where we bought Henry his birthday presents (he's going to be one so soon!  And yes, I'm freaking out).

 

Brandon was super thrilled I was taking his picture while he filled out his form and got his foot bath.

Post-massage hair is a glorious thing.

Beautiful Inside And Out

Last week I admitted a whole bunch of things about myself to you guys.  And thankfully, no one seems to hate me after.  But after reading through what I had posted, one of my readers (hi April!) suggested that I challenge myself by doing a similar post, but this time posting what makes me "beautiful inside and out".  She also suggested getting input from B.  So I asked him.  And then he came up with this entire post of really nice things, and well, I just can't top that.  So instead, I'll just let him talk - and then write out the check to pay him for saying these nice things.

Hi Internet. Sorry I never really know how to start a conversation so I figured a cordial greeting would break the ice. I was asked to write about the qualities that make me think, nay very sure, that my wife is beautiful in all senses of the word. In theory this is really quite easy to answer.

She just is.

Yes, that is a cop out but allow me to explain.

In my life I have been lucky to be surrounded by strong, opinionated, and intelligent women (Hi Mom!). So it should come as no surprise that I would seek that out in a life mate. But I got more than I asked for in Sarah.

In this weirdly effortless way she allows me to be both independent and yet very dependent upon her. And therein lies one of the most amazing and beautiful things about her. She loves ME. She does not actively work to change me but instead allows me to blindly bump into things and learn from my mistakes as a husband and father.  She challenges me but does not criticize me. All the while laughing along with me. And god I love that laugh.

Sarah is without a doubt the most loving person I have ever met. It's not just that she is loving but she genuinely cares about the people she loves and feels both with and for them without showing pity.

Sarah lights up the room when she walks into it, which sadly as new parents seems to be the house and the grocery store since all of our time is spent raising a child lately.

She continues to amaze me each day as she gains these new Mom superpowers and constantly proves me right because I knew she would be an amazing Mother.

She's my best friend, my true believer, my favorite person to talk to, my beautiful arm candy.

My everything.

Our Love Story

LENGTH OF TIME TOGETHER: Dating 6 years (on NYE), Married 2 years

WHERE DID YOU MEET:  At a bar in Toledo.  B was out with a friend, who happened to know my friend that I was also out with.  We started chatting and soon found out that he lived in Columbus, where ironically I was planning to move in just a few short months.

HIS PICK UP LINE:  "Do you wear colored contacts?"  (Smooth, right?)

THE BEGINNING:  Because we did the long distance things for a few months before I moved to Columbus, we racked up CRAZY cell phone bills by literally texting all day long.  In our first month, B had a $600 phone bill.  I'm still amazed by that.  A few months after we started dating I finally moved to Columbus where I had been wanting to live for a couple years.  We lived about a half hour apart there and spent most nights together.

BRANDON'S FIRST IMPRESSION OF SARAH: "I found you attractive, but I was also very intrigued by you."

SARAH'S FIRST IMPRESSION OF BRANDON:  I thought he had beautiful eyes and was really funny.

FIRST DATE:  Our first date was on New Years Eve 2008/2009.  We went to a bar to see a friend's band perform and then to a house party of one of my co-workers.  The way he interacted with all of my friends that he'd never met made me realize that this was a guy that I should really hold on to.

THE MIDDLE:  A few months after we moved in together in Columbus, B was offered a promotion at his company that would take him out to the Pittsburgh area.  Because we had just moved in together, because we weren't even engaged, and because I was looking to move into a fashion position in Columbus, I was a little hesitant.  But after a long talk with my sister who encouraged me to think about if I'd be able to be without him, I said that I'd go with him.  It was really hard at first (and still is on occasion), but I'm so glad we did it.  We love it out here.  A little while after we moved here, Brandon proposed at my favorite spot in Pittsburgh overlooking the entire city.

BRANDON'S FAVORITE TRAITS OF SARAH:  Honest to a fault, exceptionally caring, wicked smart (said with a Boston accent).  Physically it's her touch.

SARAH'S FAVORITE TRAITS OF BRANDON:  His humor, his mind, his supportive and protective nature.  Physically it's his voice.

BRANDON'S FAVORITE MOMENT:  "The first time I hugged you.  I had never hugged someone before and it just felt right like that."

SARAH'S FAVORITE MOMENT:  Right before we walked down the aisle at our wedding, we met in the courtyard on opposite sides of the wall so we couldn't see each other.  We held hands and laughed and joked.  The way I felt when I grabbed his hand (instantly calm and relaxed) reconfirmed that I was marrying exactly the person I was meant to.

THE NOW:  We've been married for two years, and have our first child and I swear there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about how lucky I am.  Yes, the transition to parenthood and having to become unselfish ourselves has been hard.  And we definitely have our fights because we're both very strong-willed, stubborn people.  But he still kisses me on the forehead every single morning before work and tells me he loves me.  And we still randomly text or email each other every single day.  And we still laugh and joke and I still think he's the smartest, funniest, most handsome man in the world.  And to watch him as a parent blows my mind, and to hear him tell me how amazing of a Mom he thinks I am gives me butterflies all over again.  I don't know if we'll ever move again, but if we do, it'll be back to Columbus, the place where it feels like it all started for us.

Is there anything you want to know about Brandon and I?  Let me know!