When Loss finds you Unexpectedly

This morning I packed up cookies for my almost five year old to take to school so that he could share them with his classmates in celebration of his upcoming birthday that will occur while their school is on Spring Break next week.

This morning his dad and I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get his almost five year old brain to wrap around the concept that yes today is not his birthday but he is just going to CELEBRATE it with his school friends. And yes we are STILL having a birthday party at the trampoline park, because he was very concerned about wanting them all to have fun.

This morning was full of conversations about celebrating his birth.

This morning – the very last thing I expected my mom to say when she called me while I sat in the Starbucks Drive thru lane was to tell me that my Pawpaw had passed away.

I never expected to be slapped in the face with a reminder of the fragility of life. I never expected to be mentally taken back to last Thursday when my own dad was in the ICU with a brain bleed facing possible surgery and being scared of all the worst possible outcomes.

I never expected after that and only a short week later that he’d be struggling with his  own recovery and then have the death of his father piled on top.

Things are still fresh and messy and complicated in my head – but I’m writing because that helps to sort things out.

I’m just thinking about how we can’t take for granted all the little moments that make up our lives. And we for sure can’t take for granted the ones we’ve chosen to spend those moments with.

I spent a lot of time today thinking about my Pawpaw and the moments that come to mind when I think of him.

My Pawpaw served and retired from the United States Air Force. When I think of a soldier, I think of him.

My Pawpaw was an extremely religious man. When I think of church on Sundays. When I think of long wooden pews and hymnals. When I think of the beginning of my childhood experiences with the community and extended family that belonging to a church brings, I think of him.

My Pawpaw used to do this thing where he’d threaten to ‘mute’ me with his TV remote, because I was a chatty kid – especially when he was trying to enjoy a show. When my kids are talking over my latest Netflix obsession, I think of my Pawpaw.

My Pawpaw was never afraid to try a new hobby. In my lifetime? He had horses, hunting dogs, several boats, scooters and then motorcycles, and always all kinds of new technology. When I think of jumping in head first into something you’re interested in, I think of my Pawpaw.

And then just a million other childhood memories, that flashed in my head throughout the day today.

So. Just love on your loved ones today. Be present in the moments that make up your life. Value the people that are there with you in those moments.

 

 

 

Being Happy in Love

I will be the first person to stand up and give props to someone who is just ready to let go of a relationship. Any relationship. A relationship with a family member like your mother, father, brother, daughter, son, grandmother, etc. A relationship with your best friend that you’ve known since 1st grade. A relationship with a significant other. No person is bound to any relationship no matter what kind of promises you’ve made or contracts you’ve signed. If it’s time to go – even if for the simplest and simultaneously the most complex reason of you’re just not happy in that relationship anymore – you can go.

For me, leaving is the easiest thing. Running away is my instinct. Avoiding the conflict. Just waiting for it to all go away so I don’t have to deal. That comes naturally for me.

Staying. Fighting. Confronting the mess. Living in the muck and mire. Finding healing within all the hurt. Those things are incredibly hard.

Love is not something you fall into or out of. It’s not a hole you accidentally collapse into. Love is something you choose or choose not to do. It’s your choice. I live by that. I breathe by that. I tattooed that on my arm – but even I sometimes forget that.

I once saw this post by Word Porn on Facebook that said something along the lines of, “Great love is not found, it’s made.” And that just also really resonated with me because it’s basically another way of saying that love is something you do and make … not something you can catch or lose. 

I know and swear by the idea that no one can make me happy except for myself.

When you hear a couple who have been together for a long period of time reflect upon their relationship – you will inevitably hear them talk about bad times they’ve been through. They will tell you how things got incredibly tough. They may say that there were years of tough times. And honestly, I just always glazed over comments like that. I just didn’t understand why you would live and go through something .. some vague circumstance that was so awful for the two of you  – yet you stuck it out. You’re still together. And things are better.

I think it’s because so often when talking about a romantic partnership, you let the romance part get in the way of the partnership part which is actually more important and what gives your relationship longevity.

The thing is we give our friendships so much more grace. We have friends that we’ve known for 10 or more years wherein there were some extremely rough patches, but we can look back on that and laugh and smile about how we’ve grown together and we’re still here together …everyday…living in, nurturing, and growing our friendship.

The generations of people who are my age (early 30’s) and down are experiencing committed relationships in such a different way than our parents or even our older brothers and sisters. We move in together years before we are even ready to talk about marriage. We have kids without a thought to future commitment to each other. We quickly and often times without thought or foresight establish a bond to each other financially and emotionally with very little concern for where it’s all going.

We’ve also got access to pretty much anyone we could want to be with. Geography and travel time no longer stand in our way. The internet has put the world at our fingertips and allowed us to easily establish and grow relationships that span oceans, continents, and time zones. There are no limits.

So then what? What do you do when you’ve made these great leaps of faith just to be with this human being you felt you couldn’t live without? What do you do when you move in together after three months of dating, mainly because it was just the most logical and reasonable thing to do in the face of the money you were spending on an apartment you never stayed in anymore? What do you do when you find yourself married to someone just so that they can live where you live and you can be together? What do you when years have passed and now you’ve got this whole life and family together that just kind of happened along the way?

What do you do if you made one of those decisions, but now…now you’re not happy in love and you don’t know why?

You may have not made intentional plans for the way your relationship looks today.  You may not know what to do with each other so you lash out. You might just be tired and are searching for things that you think are making you happy.

Other people – other things – they will not make you happy. YOU have to decide to be happy in the place that you are standing. YOU have to do things to make yourself happy. Sometimes that’s as easy as changing your perspective…getting a different view…letting go.

But sometimes – it’s harder than that. Sometimes it’s realizing that you love your life and the people you share it with. The person you share it with…and knowing that they feel the same way. And then making yourself happy. Deciding to be happy. Moving past the hard stuff. Being hopeful of the future. Allowing yourself to see beyond all the ugly and hateful things. Choosing your words wisely. Speaking in love, not anger. Being kind.

Allow yourself to be happy. Stop exhausting yourself by searching for your happiness in other people. Acknowledging what’s standing right in front of you.

Just be happy. Intend to be happy in the everyday moments that make up your life. Nurture the partnerships you want to keep, and fit in as much romance as you can.

No one person can fulfill you forever and always. No one friend. No one significant other. You’ve got to admit and realize that before you can make yourself happy. Before you can be happy.  Before you can make great love. Before you can be happy IN love.

 

Wedding Planning: The Venue

When I last wrote a wedding planning post, we had only a date.  Then changed it – twice.  At some point, I even decided maybe I just didn’t need to get married at all.  You see, my crippling anxiety truly comes up with some idiotic problems sometimes.  Making decisions is really hard for me so sometimes I decide to just eliminate the process altogether.  That is what I did with wedding planning…just quit thinking about it.

One night, with drinks flowing, Stuart and I had a serious conversation that made me realize my hesitance to plan a wedding had led to him wondering if I wanted to be with him at all.  I quickly understood where he was coming from and immediately decided to plan a surprise for him.

Back in late summer of 2017, we had visited a craft brewery to check them out as a venue.  We loved the event coordinator, the atmosphere, the location, the aesthetics…it just felt right.  We didn’t book on the spot, but only because we wanted to make sure it was what we wanted.  Looking back, we probably should have just gone for it.

Since then, I changed the date several times and researched venues so much that I couldn’t remember a thing.  I created spreadsheets to track the information I got.  Then one day, in a moment of super appreciation for this man who puts up with me, I thought, I should just book the venue without telling him.  I told my closest friends and they all agreed that it would mean so much and, in the end, put me at ease to know that I at least have that much figured out.

As soon as I had the money together, I chose a date, paid the deposit on the brewery, signed the contract, and put together a card to tell Stuart.  I printed a portion of the contract and put it into a card.  I bought beers from the brewery for us to toast with.  When he got home and settled in, I gave him the card.  It took him a minute to process what was happening.  He was absolutely shocked and delighted.  We are now FULL SPEED planning this wedding, since it’s in November this year!

 

Next up, finalizing guest list, making wedding party official, and booking photography and catering!  I plan to update here along the way, because it should be interesting!

 

When Things Change

I grew up in the small town of Lucedale, Mississippi.  Like so many small-town Southern families, we were close-knit and rarely did people in our family move away.  I went to college at the University of Southern Mississippi, an hour from home – far enough for privacy and personal growth, but close enough to go home anytime I wanted or needed to.  Hattiesburg became my true home as I got older.  I loved it and still do.

I moved around several times during my adulthood – Hughesville, MD; Clermont, FL; back to Lucedale; Gulfport, MS; Arlington, TX; and now, Fort Worth.  The best of times were when I lived in Gulfport – far enough away from my nosy small town (in a dry county), but close enough to attend family functions and to see my parents on all holidays and birthdays.

Being in the DFW area has its advantages:

  • Homeschool freedom
  • Great weather
  • Diversity in the cities
  • Plenty of things to do
  • Great restaurants, shopping, and nightlife
  • A friend group I always wanted
  • Stuart has a great job here.
  • Enough distance from my family to raise my children my way without meddling

There are definitely disadvantages:

  • The dry air sucks for my skin.
  • I have severe allergies here.
  • I don’t have family holidays.
  • Not near the beach
  • My old friends, part of my soul, are too far away.
  • I miss MY shopping centers and MY bar.
  • Have you ever driven in the DFW?!
  • My hairstylist is in Mississippi
  • My family is too far away to be a real support system.
  • My nephew is coming soon, in MS, and I want my kids to grow up near him.

That last one, though.  Several things happened over the weekend while I was back home visiting -a great hair appointment, girl time with one of my oldest friends, troublemaking with my Bestie, meeting new friends- that made me realize how much I need to be home.  Above all else, I need to see my nephew born, I need long day visits with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  I need to see my parents and extended family far more than I have the last few years.

It’s a hard pill to swallow to realize you have made a life-altering decision that you’re no longer happy with.  I moved to Texas to continue my relationship with Stuart because he can’t do his job in Mississippi.  The decision to put my relationship with him above a lot of other things in my life is now nagging the hell out of me.

This doesn’t mean I’m packing up and shipping out – it just means that I am less certain of what the future holds.

Week In Review: Rhonda

It’s a lovely day to recap a lovely week!  I had such a fun-filled, busy week and party-licious weekend.  Let’s get to it!

On Monday, we did Art class for school, learning about how to use the color wheel to mix paints into a blood red shade, perfect for making handprints on the windows and mirrors.

We had such a crazy jam-packed week.  Workouts, school, Halloween party planning and decorating.

Friday, I packaged up orders, ran more errands, then came home to enjoy some time with my latest Baths and Bliss order.  I can’t get enough of these high quality, handcrafted products!

Then.  Then it was the weekend and holy moly was it wild!  We had our first annual Halloween party that evening, after making a booze run.

We throw a lot of parties, but this one was by far my favorite.  We had a wonderful turnout and the food got destroyed, which tickled me beyond anything you can imagine.  There is nothing worse than pouring your time and money into a party and nobody showing up or nobody really eating.  I will be posting party details another day!

I absolutely drank so much that night and felt every bit of it for most of Sunday.  I got better just in time to head to the wedding of one of Stuart’s coworkers.  The wedding was absolutely lovely and the bride stunning.  We had a good meal, plenty of drinks, and so much fun dancing with our friends.

I can’t imagine a better weekend!

Did you get into any Halloween festivities this weekend?

 

Week in Review: Rhonda

Last week, we skipped out on our Week in Review posts because we were trying to wrap our minds around the tragedy in Las Vegas.  I don’t know that I’ll ever really be able to wrap my head around it, but I can’t allow my  life to completely halt following tragedies.

My kids are STILL out of town at their dad’s, so I have been trying to be productive while doing some things for myself as well.  Let’s just hit the highlights of the last two weeks, in no particular order.

There was bath beer, drinks with the girls, and sunbathing.

There was patio chilling and grilling, and yummy comfort food whipped up in the kitchen.

There was more sunbathing and a date night.

There was brunch at our spot.

It was a lovely couple of weeks and the freedom I have had is coming to an end – this weekend!  What would you do if you only had a few remaining kid-free days?

Weekend Roundup: Top 5 Posts

With a growth in readers and followers, it’s time to once again link you up to our most read posts.  Whether you’re new around here or just missed something, take a moment to go back and read our top 5 posts.

5. Three Years – an ode to Claudia Love on her third birthday

4. The Story of My Tattoo: Ashley – a tale of a spontaneous decision made in the Fort Worth Stockyards

3. From Arrest to Engagement – the story of how poor decisions can lead to something amazing

2. Nipstick – how to find the perfect nude for your lips, while nude

  1. A Drinking Problem – a response to some cowardly and ignorant accusations

 

Which of these posts is your favorite?

Five First Date Must-Haves

I am a huge fan of first dates – choosing an outfit, getting ready, that nervous first moment when you meet up or are picked up, hopefully great conversation, the awkwardness of whether to hug or kiss.  I don’t necessarily enjoy wondering if he will text back, but it’s all part of it.

I haven’t been on a first date (or any date for that matter) in a long time, but I have a lot of experience and am happy to share my expertise.

So what do you need for a first date?  There are five essentials I wouldn’t dare go on a date without.

  1. Your good underwear.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “I don’t do that on the first date.”  That’s fine.  I don’t either, in theory.  But I did once or twice.  It happens.  The thing is, wearing pretty and well-fitting underwear isn’t just in case you get undressed during your date.  Wearing nice and pretty matching underwear that fits like it was made for you boosts your confidence and makes you feel and act sexy.  I started wearing Soma Intimates exclusively last year and it changed the way I carry myself, whether I’m out running errands in cutoff shorts, out on a date in a lace dress, or getting naked.
  2. A Kiss-Proof Lipstick.  With any luck, you’ll get a first date kiss.  Don’t try to tell me you don’t kiss on the first date.  It’s a must.  Don’t waste a second date with a bad kisser.  Gross.  Anyway, I personally feel sexy in confident in a red lip, but don’t want to smear it on my partner’s face (or neck or…. anywhere).  Luckily, I’ve been using Lipsense most of this year and that problem is GONE.  You can ask my fiance, we are both big fans.  It doesn’t transfer to him (or on my glass).  You can hit me up on my Facebook group.  Our readers get 10% of their first orders!
  3. Breath Strips.  If you’re anything like me, you’re going to eat a nice steak with a garlic butter and your breath may not be amazing when the meal is done.  Or maybe you’re just on a date to a hole in the wall bar.  Beer breath is no bueno either.  No worries – excuse yourself to the restroom while the two of you are waiting for the check.  Pop a breath strip in your mouth and by the time you have washed your hands, it will have dissolved and your breath will be kissably fresh!
  4. A pre-date drink.  It doesn’t matter how much I am looking forward to a date or other event – I have ridiculous situational anxiety.  I will literally get sick in anticipation of things to come.  It’s not necessarily the alcohol that calms me as I do my hair and makeup, it’s the ritual.  Sipping on a drink (I tend to do bubbly or wine) while you blend your eyeshadow can really calm your nerves.  And well, if you do choose an alcoholic drink, you’re more likely to be yourself and a little more receptive to flirtation.  Just don’t go overboard.  You certainly don’t want to start a date drunk.
  5. A friend on SOS duty.  Look, you never know when a date is going to be a bust.  We should all be ladylike and mature enough to sit through and end a date that is a little awkward and boring, but never “tough out” a date with someone who is disrespectful or makes you truly uncomfortable.  You need a game plan.  Have a friend you can slip to the bathroom to text, who will text or call you in a few minutes with an emergency.  Be prepared with code words in case you should ever feel unsafe.  Dating is supposed to be fun, but never take for granted that your date is going to be a good guy.

 

What are your first date musts?  And I need to know, have you ever had to utilize an SOS text?

Week In Review: Rhonda

Dang, it’s Monday?!  Only discovered that when I saw that Ashley posted the recap of her week.  I guess I’ll update you on MY life.  I’m sure you’re just dying to hear all about it.

You all know what Monday was – big eclipse day!  Well, it was also our first day back to school and we had a great day!  We watched the big event live on NASA’s Facebook feed all day.  Later I found Harper using a flashlight to recreate the eclipse.  I love watching his mind work.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were pretty basic.  Figuring out a school routine and general household and work duties.

I got a great surprise Friday when I woke up and Stuart was still in the bed, smiling at me.  He had taken the day off unexpectedly and it made my day.  He helped me with school, which the kids really seemed to enjoy.  We played Trivial Pursuit, during which we discovered Nick has never heard of Levi’s.

Saturday, we took another trip to IKEA, this time with two kids.  We spent so much time there, during which we LOST CLAUDIA.  We were in the kitchen area of the showroom and Quentin was marveling over some stools.  We mentioned that we were headed to the dining tables to take another look at the one we wanted.  Some baby girl hobbled over and touched my leg and I looked down expecting it to be Claudia. It was not and it was then that we realized Claudia was not with us.  Panic.  I immediately turned around and retraced my steps, thinking she got turned around in the crowded store.  Stuart and Quentin were searching the surrounding kitchens.  When I didn’t find her in the last few areas we had been, I switched directions and went ahead.  I found her with an employee who was calling to report her found.  Turns out she had wandered off and a customer found her standing alone.  Scariest moment of my parenting so far.  It was probably only 2 minutes, but it felt like an hour.  Once that nightmare was over, we finished shopping, picked up Claudia’s bed from a friend, and headed home for a late dinner.

Sunday, we started putting together our lovely IKEA haul and that was quite the adventure.  Quentin and Claudia were surprisingly helpful. Stuart’s coworker Jim came over in the evening with his power tools to help with one of the more complicated assemblies in exhange for a steak.

 

Parents Need Sex Too

I hear it all the time from parents and I am willing to bet that either you or one of your friends has said it.

“We don’t have time to have sex. We have small kids.”

Get the fuck out of here with that. That is a bullshit excuse.

Yeah, I hear you.  You are sooo busy.  Guess what?  Everyone is busy, but you make time for things that are important to you.  I’m too busy to feed my kids, but I know they need to eat, so I do it anyway.

Your kids don’t go to bed until 9, which is also about the time your husband falls asleep watching ESPN?  Cool.  It’s time to have a conversation with him.  Have you tried that yet?

Maybe it’s the one hour of the day that you’re going to see your husband, because your schedules just don’t align.  Girl, hand those kids some tablets and lock yourselves in the closet if you have to.  It probably won’t take long.

A friend of mine, at the ripe old age of 24 and parent of one child, told me, “My wife and I have sex about once a month.  There just isn’t time and we are tired.”  No, no, no.  Just no.

Sex is so damn important in a long-term relationship and I am here to tell you this – your marriage will not survive without some nurturing.  I am a firm believer that a marriage or partnership should be prioritized over what the children want.  Note that I said WANT.  I am not advocating starving your kids or skipping diaper changes so you can bang your spouse or cuddle in your bedroom.  What I am saying is you have to be honest with yourselves and realize you just aren’t making the time for one another….and when that happens, things go downhill.

Look, I homeschool 4 kids and work from home.  My fiance works 14-hour days.  Guess who is having sex a lot?  That would be us.

How?

  1. We lock the damn door.
  2. We put our phones away when we get in bed.
  3. We don’t limit ourselves to bedtime.  A Saturday afternoon during an obnoxious YouTube video works great, especially when you’ve had mimosas all morning.
  4. We just GO for it.  Sometimes one of us is super sleepy and clearly not in the mood, but we strip off our clothes and go for a good kiss.
  5. We stay intimate in every way.  Once that is lost, it’s hard to get back..not impossible, but hard. So we tell each other our dreams and secrets and we hug a lot and hold hands in the store.  We laugh a lot and goodness, we drink so well together.  Drinks never hurt.
  6. I take care of myself.  For some women, this isn’t as important.  For me, I feel so much sexier and in the mood when I have on a gorgeous red lip and a satin robe or a dress.  If I am constantly in leggings and a ponytail when he comes home from work, I will never feel hot.

Tonight, put on something pretty, lock the damn door and go for it.