Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Anniversary Post


Today is our 11th wedding anniversary!  Nobody reads blogs on the weekends (does anybody read this blog anyway, it begs the question), but I'll share this today anyway.

What have you done for your marriage today?  If you are married, it's an important question to ask, methinks.  Because it's often the first thing that gets neglected in all the crazy.  Or it's the easiest thing to neglect because we're grown ups and we can take it.  If no one changes the baby's diaper, there will be a serious situation on hand.  If we don't go out on a date, the repercussions are less visible, for a time anyway.  But eventually, after enough neglect, the proverbial sh*t will hit the fan, amiright?!

So, in honor of 11 years of being hitched, I present to you...

Anniversary selfie at breakfast this morning.  

1. PRAY--Pray for your spouse.  Pray with your spouse.  Attend church together.  Tell him/or her what you need prayers for and ask how you can pray for them.  Ask for the intercession of the saints.  Every year I forget that we were married on the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne (Mary's parents) until our anniversary rolls around and then I get excited about how cool that is when I remember.  Surely they will pray for us when we ask!

2. MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER--This might be the only piece of advice that I offer here that you haven't heard about.  Attending a Marriage Encounter weekend was the single best thing we have done for our marriage to date.  Hands down.  It was such a refreshing experience, and gave us both the time and the tools to really work on and improve our relationship.  Totally worth it.  If you want to know more, please please ask me!  There are ME weekends all over the country (including close to home in Jeff City) and at all different times of year. 

3. DATE YOUR SPOUSE--This one is super important to me.  It is also really hard to take the time for that with four children at home.  But we are trying to make it a priority right now, especially in this season of having a baby who basically runs the show around here.  My recent plan is to have one "out of the house" date night per month, and on the other weeks we just date each other at home after the kids are in bed.  Game night, s'mores by the campfire, movie night, etc.  (Although we Redboxed whatever that movie is about Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller last night and it was totally the terrible-ist.  But that's not the point.)

4. GOAL SET AND FUTURE PLANNING--This always feels like a good way to reconnect for us.  Even if it's over something annoying like the budget.  Planning vacations, debt management, house projects and the like can be fun and not stressful if you take the time to sit down together (when you're in a good mood) and dream/plan things out.  Also maybe you will found out some things about your spouse that you never knew.  I asked him once if he could go anywhere in the continental U.S. where would he choose?  The beach?  National parks?  New York City?  Nope.  His response: Oklahoma City.  What?!  Weirdo.  I mean, I love him!

5. MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER COUPLES WITH THE SAME VALUES ON MARRIAGE--Having married friends is really helpful, especially when you, as couples, are friends. There are a lot of people who bad mouth their spouses or husbands/wives in general.   Attitude is important and the things we say, listen to, and think might help or hurt our marriage more than we realize.  We have recently made some friends (and we have some long-standing friends as well) who really are committed to making their marriages healthy and holy and we value these friendships! 

**Disclaimer** Talking through a problem with a friend who can help or listen is not necessarily the same thing as badmouthing.  But the line can get blurry sometimes, so be on your guard. 

6. LEARN YOUR SPOUSE'S LOVE LANGUAGE--I would venture a guess that most of you have read or heard of Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages.  But if you haven't, it's a good read and can be really eye opening when it comes to the way that you communicate love in your relationship.  It's also good to revisit when it's been awhile--just to see if you are really still showing your love in the most effective way. 

7. BE GRACE--Word.  This is super hard.  It's way easier to just be Kelley (who is naturally selfish and unforgiving.)  But offering comfort when I really want to criticize or choosing words and attitudes that build up my husband instead of tearing him down really is the better way.  One of my favorite scriptures is from Romans and says, "Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor."  And I think that really is a good mantra for marriage and family.  Honor each other, even when you don't feel like it or when you feel like the other person doesn't deserve it.

8. LEARN OR DO SOMETHING NEW TOGETHER--Learn a new sport or a DIY skill or an instrument or whatever floats your boat (heck, learn how to float a boat!)  That kind of stuff is good for the brain and good for connection between the two of you. 

9. ENCOURAGE YOUR SPOUSE TO PRIORITIZE HIM/HERSELF--We all need to take care of ourselves.  It is easy to just neglect yourself because you're busy or tired or the kids need you or what have you.  We have been pretty good recently about helping each other to have some time to ourselves to do whatever is good for us.  Mike goes to a men's group that meets in the evening and plays sand volleyball with some folks from work.  And he, in turn, tries to make sure that I get time to work out, and have some girl time with my friends.

10. CHALLENGE YOURSELF--Take an honest look at your part of the relationship and find the struggles.  Figure out where you need to grow and then commit to working on it for a week or a month or Lent or Advent or whenever.  You may surprise yourself. 

11. HAVE FUN!  We had a time a few years back when we took a look at our days and realized that we really weren't having any fun.  We were spending all of our time at work and dealing with a high maintenance baby/toddler and all the joy was gone.  So we made a conscious decision to have more fun.  Take family walks, play games, explore new places.  It made a difference.  Because in the end, I want to grow old with someone whose company I enjoy.  Who I can smile and laugh with all the way to Heaven. 
Look at this guy.  How could we not have fun?!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Lesson in Genetics

Today I backed my van into our closed garage door.  It was not my finest moment, but thankfully only one tiny swear word escaped my lips after the impact, so I guess it's not a total loss.  But the reason for the collision...genetics.  Let me explain.

My husband is the best.  Hands down.  He can do just about anything he puts his mind to, loves our family so well, and is generally just a great guy.  But.  He has one fatal flaw.  Blood and needles.  They are his Kryptonite.  He can't really stand seeing them, or worse, thinking about them.  Anytime we watch Grey's Anatomy he has to cover his eyes for the super-medical parts.  How about a little anecdote to illustrate this, shall we?

When we had our first kid, I ended up having a C-section.  Mike was a trooper through the whole surgery.  He even saw some very surgical things that he probably should have avoided looking at for his own sake.  After the delivery, while I was still on the operating table, Mike went back with newborn Emma to the nursery.  He was all garbed up in surgical scrubs, mask, booties, and the like.  And it was warm in the nursery.  Do you catch my drift?  They gave Emma a shot and down he went.  Passed out and a nurse had to catch him on the way down.  Then when he came to, he threw up!  Right next to all those shiny little newborn babies!  Oh the horror!

So when my mom met me back in the recovery room, she had to relay all the events that transpired while I was oh so peacefully getting my insides sewn back together.  And a few minutes later he joined us in the room.  IN A WHEELCHAIR.  He was being pushed by a nurse, sipping on orange juice, and had cool washcloths placed on his forehead and neck.  And everyone was like, "Are you ok?!  Can I get you anything?!"  To my husband.  Who did not just have a real live person cut out of his abdomen.  But I'm over it.

I can't find the photographic evidence of this is packed in boxes from our move last August.  So the following pics of sweet Emma's birth-day will have to suffice.

Illegal hospital co-sleeping
Who let those babies have a baby?!

Fortunately, the births of our other three children have gone much more smoothly.  So that's progress.

Here's where the genetics come in.  Andrew, our eight year old, has a few warts on his hand that we have been seeing a dermatologist for.  Yesterday he went in to have them frozen again, and that results in some pretty big blisters that we have to drain.  With a needle.  So as we were rushing around to get to Vacation Bible School this morning, he asked me to drain one.  So I did.  And immediately he said, "Mom, I don't feel good."  His face was white as a sheet and he looked super sick.  He hovered over the toilet for awhile waiting to puke and I thought he had the stomach flu.  A few minutes later, I pieced it all together and realized that he just has the same weak link as his dad.

By this time, we were going to be late, so I was rushing around to get all the kids in the car.  Juggling a vomit basin (just in case), Andrew's cold water and cold washcloth, my coffee, the baby carseat, etc.  And I just went.  Didn't look in the mirror.  Didn't open the garage door until after I heard the crunch and the shattering of glass.  Honestly, I'm surprised it didn't happen to me sooner.  And, for the record, I didn't even cry.  Which is shocking since I wept last night over something silly like dishes in the sink.

Just another day here at Casa Crazy.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Love Your Neighbor

Alternate Title: Karma's a B.

Boy, do I have a story for you! 

A few days after the Fourth of July, we were out in our front yard shooting off some of our leftover fireworks.  The seventh grade neighbor boy came over to ask if we wanted to do some of their smoke bombs, and of course, the kids were pumped. 

Let me preface the rest of this story by telling you the following: We moved into this house 11 months ago.  We live in a pretty spread out, rural neighborhood where folks like their privacy.  We have only met the neighbors on either side of us once or twice, and we haven't even met them all.  We have never officially met the people who live directly across from us.  It's weird.  No one brought us cookies or welcomed us to the neighborhood when we moved in.  But I'm not bitter...

Ok, onward with the story.

So we walked over to their side yard to proceed with pyromaniac activities and I noticed their high school aged daughter standing off to the side.  We had never seen her since moving here, we just knew that she existed.  I smiled and introduced myself like a good neighbor should.  And then I said, "You look really familiar to me.  Do I know you from somewhere?"  And she replied back sheepishly, "Yes." 

Stop right here.  If you have not read this post of mine, you must read it before you can continue on with the rest of this story. 

Did you do it? 

Now just let all the information you've gathered sink in a bit.  Did you figure it out?

The Harry Potter Carnival girl...IS...MY...NEIGHBOR!  MY VERY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR!  What are the flippin' chances of that happening?!?!

So, we made some small talk while the kids shot flaming things into the sky and I tried to reassure her that I am not a psychopathic devil-mother.  And she apologized again.   And Mike just laughed and laughed about it.  I think I can still hear him laughing from work.  The good news is that in 11 months when we see our neighbors again, she will just about be off to college.

So the morals of the story are as follows:

You know my dear,karma's only a bitch if you are - You know my dear,karma's only a bitch if you are  Glinda the good witch

Also, love your neighbor because they just might be your neighbor.  Isn't that what Jesus said?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

All In A (Million) Day's Work

I cannot accomplish anything.  Ever.  Here is the short list of things I get done each day:

1. Nurse the baby.  Except that even this isn't working really well lately.
2. Put Reece in time out.

That's about it, folks. 

Here are some of the things I cannot accomplish:

1. Laundry.  We have approximately 14 months worth of laundry that needs washing right now.  As an example, I just washed a load of the clothes and folded a fleece sweatshirt.  It is July.  When was the last time anyone wore fleece?  I couldn't say for sure, but it wasn't in the months of June or July!  And just when I think I'm getting caught up, someone throws up, pees in their bed, or decides to wear 27 different outfits in one day.  And then there's beach towels!  Laundry, we are breaking up.

2. Pest control.  First up this summer it was yellow jackets.  We've thankfully moved on to more innocuous pests like ants, fruit flies, and four year olds.  I finally got to a growing pile of clean but too small clothes and cloth diapers today.  Sorted them and stored them, only to find a swarm (?) of tiny ants underneath it all.  And the fruit flies!  They are all over everywhere.  We are out of red wine...I'll let you decide if it's because of all the fruit fly traps. 

3. Dishes.  Hence the fruit flies, I'm sure.  Just when I get them clean, it's time for someone to eat something again.  Again I cry heavenward, why must they eat three meals a day?!

4. Cleaning out my van.  The kids want me to get in a non-injury accident so that we can have a rental vehicle.  One time a deer hit me and bashed up the side of the snack-factory-on-wheels that we drive and we had a rental for two whole weeks!  They all emphatically stated that they preferred that ride to our usual because it was cleaner.  Guess what, wackos?!  I'm not the one throwing Cheez-its and popcorn all over the inside of the car!  Geez.  These people.  Earlier this week Reece put Cheez-its and water into a non-removable cup holder in the backseat.  Then, when I braked suddenly to avoid hitting a dog in the road, the cup holder concoction (which had fermented overnight) spilled all over Andrew.  He was not amused.

5. All the other things.  I could go on and on, but I'll save it for another post, I guess.  You can thank me later. 

Here's a look at all the cousins together from this week's *first annual* "Burns Family Cousin Camp."  We'll let Grandma and Grandpa recover for a week or two and then see if there is a second annual...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Debate

What?!  Two posts in two days?!  What is happening here?

In light of the Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, I have a few thoughts.  So, here goes nothin'...

First, I don't think we know how to debate properly.  Or even to engage in the conversations regarding hot-button issues.  There is a reason that the Supreme Court ruling was 5 to 4, and not 8 to 1, or unanimous.  Because these issues are complicated.  They are more complicated than a snarky 140 character tweet, a lengthy Facebook status, or even a blog post.  They are more complex than a one-sided news report from your cable news channel of choice.  Even those who hold fast to the teachings of their faith or to the belief that women should have as much reproductive freedom as possible, if they are being honest, could say that the grey area is much bigger than what is black and white. 

And guess what?  Rants on social media don't change hearts and minds.  What they do accomplish is the building of walls where there previously weren't any.  They shut down our ability to even hear what the "other side" is saying.  We post in celebration or outrage regarding yesterday's SCOTUS decision, and all we are looking for is affirmation and approval of our deep-seated beliefs.  We want to hear what our supporters have to say.  Are we listening for the other side?  Are we searching for what is true and right, or just to be right? 

And if we really want to be a catalyst for change, then what are we prepared to do?  Because, guess what?  The Supreme Court ain't gonna reverse it's decision because Kelley Burns composed a witty tweet about it.  We can scream and shout from the rooftops of social media, but all that will change is your news feed.  So maybe we should spend more of that time learning about the issues that matter.  Both sides.  Maybe we could be a little more open to really uncovering the truth within the debates rather than simply dismissing the other as one stop away from crazy-town.  And maybe we could discuss it.  With real people who we really know.  Because what it all comes down to, these polarizing issues, are hearts and minds, not computers and message boards. 

That's all I got.  Peace out.