Category Archives: Marriage

Feliz Dia Del Padre!

The Dollar Shave Club, a fun, new subscription razor service, is running a blog campaign about Father’s Day gifts of yore, and wondered if I had any stories to share about funny Father’s Day presents I’ve given to my dad or to Mark. And I totally would have a funny story to share IF my family did gifts. But we don’t. But we’re trying! Ok, not really. But we think about trying to care about holidays every single year. Every single one. But it never happens.

Anyways, I was at the store last week and I noticed that there were reminders all over the place about Father’s Day. Here I was. At the store weeks before The Big Day. I could pick something up now and not have to worry about it at 3 P.M. on Sunday, June 15th. This is what grown ups do, right? Plan ahead and take care of business? Dizzy with excitement from the idea of being on top of things, I headed straight for the card aisle.

I stood there for a good 15 minutes trying to find the perfect card because there was so much to choose from. This is not the case when you wait til the Day Of when everything is picked over and your only options are Sympathy cards and ones in Spanish. It was a greeting card smorgasbord.

Otis and I picked out an adorable card that I think perfectly captured Mark and Otis’s relationship:
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(Preview shot only because I don’t want to ruin any surprises)

We continued our way around the grocery store, and headed for the register. I don’t know what day of the week it was, but the Kroger’s was surprisingly busy. The only short line was the Express-No-More-Than-15-Items line.

I looked in my cart. It was barely full. Surely this is less than 15 items! I started to count…

16 items. Dang. (I just need to interrupt myself and tell you why I strictly follow the number of items rule. One time during a Milk and Egg Sandwich run before an impending winter storm, my mom split up her groceries between the two of us so that we’d both have 10 items and could go through the express lane. The lady behind us saw what we were doing and she seriously told me that we were going to hell because of what we were doing. I was, like, 9! Who says that to a little kid? Anyways, her reprimand stuck and I refuse to be eternally damned by finding loopholes in express lane laws.)

I did another inventory. What did I need? Like, really need?

Milk and juice and goldfish crackers. All musts.

Stuff to make tacos and spaghetti. Yes.

Deodorant and body wash. For the sake of my co-workers.

I just needed to ditch one item. Just one.

The Father’s Day Card.

I mean, it was, like 2 weeks away! I didn’t need it now. And, if necessary, I could make a Sympathy card work (“My condolences for your loss of time, money, and sex. Love, Otis.”).

But I didn’t do it. I went to the long line with my 16 items and established myself, at the ripe age of 31, as a grown up. And that, my friends, is the true gift to my husband/baby daddy. I chose your card over my convenience. You. are. welcome.

Now the only question is where did I put it…

This post is part of a campaign with the Dollar Shave Club, a fun new razor subscription service. Every month dad can get razors delivered straight to the house which saves time and money. What dad doesn’t love that? They have also just added an After Shave Solution that any man could appreciate.

Five on Friday: Let it go…

 

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

For this Five on Friday I thought I’d talk about 5 things that make our marriage work for us because, um, why not, right?

  1. I’m on baby duty after work, and Mark takes care of the chores.
    When I get home from work I am Just Mom. I take care of Otis. I entertain him. I change his diapers. I feed him. I discipline him when he starts acting crazy.
    Mark is in charge of the chores. He makes the dinner and cleans up the dinner. He starts laundry (I usually have to remind him #keepitreal #heaintamindreader). He cleans up before I get home so the house is usually pretty nice when I walk in and a disaster when I go to bed because Otis and I are messy, messy creatures.
    The faster Mark gets all of the daily things done the faster he gets to do whatever he wants. I fully support him zoning out for the rest of the night because hanging out with a toddler all day is tiring. I get to come home and just enjoy my baby.
    Best of both worlds, right?
  2. Our house is messy.
    Mark is still a dude. His idea of clean and my idea of clean aren’t exactly the same thing, but I think this is a really great example of choosing your battles. I could give him heck about incorrectly folded toddler clothes or the 32 jackets hanging on the staircase rail, but why? I don’t want to spend the evening upset and no one is coming over so who cares? Also, all those jackets are probably mine so…
  3. Watch the clock.
    We watch our time like hawks. We make sure Mark gets plenty of alone time because he’s an Introvert and needs it.

    I make sure to get plenty of Otis time because I’m a mama bear and I need it.

    And donut time brings the whole family together.
  4. Say thank you.
    Every person in a household is doing something to make it better. Even if they’re the only one that understands the contribution. Need an example?
    My tires need to be replaced, but we’re kinda lazy. In the mean time, Mark looks at my tires nearly every day to make sure they are all the way inflated. Ok, I don’t know what he’s looking for because they always look great to me, but he always insists that I need to let him put air in them. But he usually waits to put air until I’m walking out the door. But you guys know me, right? If I’m walking out the door that probably means I was supposed to be somewhere 5 minutes ago. So I’m all..

    But then he starts talking about car accidents and death and then I’m all, “Fine, whatever. MAKE ME LATE.”

    And then he feels unappreciated because, well, I don’t appreciate him. And when he’s done I drive off mad, but then start realizing that he really does care and doesn’t want me to die and then I call him and I’m all…

    Appreciate each other even if you don’t understand each other.
  5. Keep it clean.
    We talk all of the time. ALL OF THE TIME. Sometimes our talks sound like Steel Magnolias and sometimes they sound like Fight Club, but we always talk.
    Talking, for us, is like emotional clean up. We make sure that we’ve dealt with any hurtful words or building resentment. Basically, our marriage is the only thing we “clean” on a regular basis, and that’s fine by me.  Sorry, Upstairs Bathroom.

What are your marriage/love secrets?

End of an Era

The week that Otis was conceived Mark and I were leading a marriage workshop.

(I need to interrupt myself real quick. Does everyone remember the act of conception? Do you want to share yours in the comments? Of course you do.)

One of the couples at the workshop had kids and asked when we were going to start adding to our family.

“Ha, not any time soon, that’s for sure,” Mark replied while shaking his head at the absurdity of bringing a human into this world.

And the whole time he was acting like someone had asked him when he’d be returning to Hogwarts to get a PhD in wizardry Otis was inside my belly giggling. Small, embryo-sized giggling, but giggling nonetheless.

I share this to let you know just how NOT interested Mark was in the train to Babyville.

The other day I got home from work to a quiet house, just Mark and I. My mom had already picked up Otis because we had clients that night, so it was just us.

“Could you imagine if this is what our life looked like? That we just came home every day to each other and that’s it?” Mark asked.

I’ll be honest, since Mark’s the SAHP I didn’t really know where the questioning was going. Was he gonna suggest that it would be better? That there was something peaceful about the silence?

“No. This place feels empty without him around.”

“I KNOW! Can you imagine how sad this would be? How lonely?”

Well, now I’m getting a tad offended because, um, I’m still here, but whatever. I knew what he was saying. I agreed with what he was saying.

“I’m gonna be so sad when he leaves. I don’t want him to leave,” Mark sniffled. Because he wasn’t crying. NO CRYING TOOK PLACE.

Oh, who am I kidding?

We were sitting in our house that desperately needs to be picked up because we live with the Tasmanian Devil’s cousin, and instead of getting things done we were sitting on the couch in a puddle of tears thinking about how much we love our little boy and that we’re going to be distraught when (if?) he ever moves out.

“We aren’t going to want him here forever. I’m sure we’ll be ready for him to go eventually,” I said as I wiped away tears.

“No, I really don’t think I’ll ever want him to leave,” Mark said as he DID NOT wipe away tears.

“Yeah, I don’t want him to go either. But maybe we’ll change our mind. But maybe that’s why God made the teenage years. To annoy us enough that we’ll be all ‘Get out of here already!'”

Mark didn’t look convinced.

I think I know why Mark is so (not at all) weepy. It’s because Otis is finally talking and laughing at things he thinks are funny (like this video) and communicating opinions about what he wants to eat and wear and play with. Because he knows that he shouldn’t say “Crap”, but he does it anyways. Because he shakes his tail feather in the most hilarious way ever. Because he wants to race everyone. Because if you play with his toys he’ll ask for a “trade”.

Because he isn’t a baby any more. He’s our little boy.

And the weirdest thing is happening. Our hearts are filled up in an entirely new way now, but they’re also breaking because it feels like we’re saying goodbye to one of the happiest times in our life. We’re thrilled with who our little guy is, but sad that every day this party is getting closer to over.

But I have to say that looking across the living room and seeing my non-weepy husband mourn the passing of the Baby Era made me realize just how thankful I am to be on this ride with him.

And to never miss an opportunity to strike.

“So. You ready for number two, yet?”

Link Parties & Book Clubs

 

Last week I went looking for an old post from either my Xanga blog days or my Myspace blog days because who doesn’t love a walk down Marie’s Memory Lane?

I wanted to tell you the story of how I once got a bubble jet print out of a picture of flowers for Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to link to the original blog post in case you thought I was lying.

Unfortunately, all those places I used to blog? Yeah, they didn’t think my art random stories and thoughts were worth much and they basically through my entire life’s work away.

I cried myself to sleep the night I found out. I have no shame.

I wanted to tell you the story of getting a bubble jet print out of a picture of flowers for Valentine’s Day because a) it’s funny and b) the guy that did that is married now and gets his wife REAL flowers. Not ones made of ink bubbles. Also, hat tip to Instagram for the Intermediate Level Stalking Skills. 

It’s a perfect example of how romance evolves. When you’re 15 and not sure if you’re together or not bubble jet printers are a great choice. When you’re 28 and married to the love of your life then beautiful bouquets are the obvious choice.

Well, Nashville Marriage Studio (my bidness) is partnering up with the Thriving Wives to host a monthly link party, Thriving in Marriage, where we’re discussing various marital topics (in-laws, chores, finances, personality differences).

For February we’re talking about (ooh la la) Romance.
thrivinginmarriage-01The question we’re posing is: What does romance look like in your marriage?

Because it changes, right? What you need and expect seems to morph every year, so let’s talk about it!

If you’re a blogger write a post answering the question and link up with us at Nashville Marriage Studio between February 14th and  February 20th. Feel free to use the image above (Nic at TW is soo talented, right?) and #thrivinginmarriage to follow along.

ALSO, I have been tumbling around the idea of a book club for a while, and this morning I was listening to one of my favorite pastors and he is releasing a new book in a couple of weeks so, yeah. If you want to read and discuss The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus at my house on March 22nd at 10 AM (babies welcome) then buy it, read it, discuss it. #endbookclubannouncement

The Creepiness of Cosleeping

Otis is still in our bed. And we still kind of love it. Because without cosleeping/bedsharing we wouldn’t get to wake up to this awesomeness…

photo (7) photo (8)photo (6) photo (5)

 

Seriously, his face is pure joy to wake up to each morning. And if you know Mark you’re probably surprised to hear that he loves Otis in our bed just as much as me (crazy attracts crazy, I guess). Every time I talk about when we should at least move him into his bed (that’s in our room), we both hesitate and then Mark will mention that he’d miss waking up to immediate kisses and smiles and we decide to wait until next month.

All that said, we have had a spell of funny-to-me bedsharing moments that I have decided to blogshare with you!

Night Terrors
No, I don’t think it’s funny that Otis may have had a few night terrors in the recent past. But I do think it’s funny that when he’s in the middle of one he won’t let Mark come near him. And Otis will yell, “No, no, no!” in Mark’s direction. I’ll try to take him out of the bed to rock him, but he won’t want to leave the bed and we started to get the distinct impression that Otis wanted Mark to leave the bed. This makes me think that Otis’s nightmares might include Mark, and he might be waking up pissed off at Mark which, um, I totally get.

The best part was that I thought it was a great time to give Otis a lecture about true ownership. “Otis, you cannot kick daddy out of bed. This bed is daddy’s and he lets you sleep here. You don’t let him. Understand?” No, Marie, he doesn’t.

Creepy Baby Talk
Last night the boys went to bed a couple of hours before I did. So when I got to bed it was completely dark and both of them were fast asleep. As I laid down I leaned over to give Otis a kiss when I heard a very awake, very chipper toddler say, “Hi!”

Almost had a heart attack. And if I had even an ounce of survival instinct Otis would have been accidental lunch meat (stand my ground indeed!)

Because be for real, is there anything creepier than baby voices in the dark when you aren’t expecting it? I don’t think so. In the mood for more creepy kids? Check this out. Chills.

Creepier Baby Talk
I need to preface this one. Otis only knows a handful of words right now (we’re working on it!). One of his newer words is please. But it has an Otis spin on it. He pronounces ‘please’ as ‘plee-ya-ya’ while nodding his head yes. Basically, he is practicing his Mr. Subliminal impression and will say please while “asking” for something while also saying/nodding yes in case you don’t know the correct answer to his demand “request”.

So one of the obvious downsides to bedsharing is the creativity required for Hint, Hint. Which, whatever, that doesn’t happen after kids (JUST KIDDING!). Well, Mark thought that both of us being up before Otis one morning would be a perfect time to squeeze some time together in. But he was very wrong because I need Otis no where near us for anything resembling Hint, Hint to happen and Otis’s foot was touching Mark’s leg and, well, no. Just no.

So I say, in the stubborn, whiney way Otis does, “No, no, no”.

And Mark comes back with, “Plee-ya-ya-ya” while nodding his head ‘yes’.

I lost it. We had just used our son’s baby talk to negotiate Hint, Hint.

We’ll be moving him into his own bed tomorrow (not), and starting really intense therapy (probably).

Be Kind

*I’m cleaning out my blog post draft folder this week. These are blog posts that I wrote in 2012, but for some reason never got published. I’m looking at you, Otis.

I didn’t write an anniversary post last year. But I had a pretty decent excuse, I think. There was this little guy that moved in with us and would not shut up about being fed. So I was preoccupied. And tired. So very, very tired. And leaking if I remember correctly…

Four years ago we became a family. Yes, it was just the two of us, but that’s still a family in my book. Especially if you have animals.

mark and marie 2008

I think if the word that best fits this 4th year of marriage is kindness. There has truly been so much kindness in our marriage.

Being kind isn’t something that people write about in marriage books. People write marriage books about increasing passion, decreasing arguments, and whose turn it really is to wash the dishes (answer: his).  But rarely are we reminded to be kind to this person we love and share a life with.

It was harder to be kind this year. Both of us had every reason in the world to look at each other and say “You suck right now”. I’d be lying if those words didn’t sneak out a couple times over the past 365 days. It’s just there were so many more encouraging hugs, squeezed hands of “It’s going to be fine”, and truly thankful prayers for how abundant our life really is.

No matter how hard the day had been we both knew it would end with our favorite event: bedtime snuggles. We ended nearly every night this year snuggled in bed with the baby talking and laughing about our day.

This year wasn’t sexy or exciting. But it was kind. Very, very kind.

Here’s to (at least) four more, Boo.

Help a mommy blogger out…

I’m promoting my newest marriage workshop, and I’m scouring The Internet looking for mommy blogs that will let me guest blog when it occurs to me…

I’m a mommy blogger! I can use my blog!
plus one

Plus One: How to fight in front of the kids is an online workshop that will start on September 5th. There are 4 classes and we’ll walk through everything your relationship needs to get through the Valley of Sorrow and No Sex, aka parenting a new baby.

Maybe you’re interested? A friend that would be interested? Maybe you have a blog that you’ll let me borrow so I can find other people that are interested?

Hit me up: marie.mckinney@gmail.com

His job and her job

Mark: Ow! Otis bit my finger. Look. (shows me a finger with a couple of bite marks)

Me: Seriously? Otis tore up my-

Mark: I don’t want to hear that!

Me: But he did. I have the stitches to prove it.

Mark: Well… that’s not my fault.

My Face: WTF?!

Mark: I got him in there. You just had to get him out.

Tell Them

My love language is words of affirmation. I know I’m loved when I hear it or read it. I have a folder in my inbox of emails that were encouraging or that pick me up for any number of reasons. Most fights with Mark start because I haven’t heard that he’s loved me in too long and end with him giving a beautiful Braveheart-like* speech about our love and how we’re going to be ok. On the regular, I want to write blog posts about how special my friends and family are to me and then I don’t because that’s all this blog would become and now I’m wondering if that’s such a bad thing…

I remember one time leading a Bible study and asking the women how they’d feel if their husband came home one night and said, “Honey, I just want you to know that I am so proud of you. You are doing such a beautiful job raising our kids and I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for that.” I remember most of the women tearing up at the thought. I remember thinking that even if words of affirmation isn’t your love language it’s still probably been too long since you’ve heard that you mattered. Your heart is still probably craving it.

I’ve talked about the Lizard Brain before and how it eats away at some of us. We constantly hear this voice saying that things are hopeless or never going to change, that you are ugly and don’t deserve love, that no one cares and you’re alone forever. You don’t have to be a genius or have a counseling degree to know what your loved ones need to hear right now.

I know that Mark needs to hear he is doing a wonderful job taking care of me and Otis. My mother-in-law needs to hear she has family. My dad needs to hear he is loved no matter what.

And I need to tell them.

Hallmark has a new app on Facebook, the Tell Them app. You vow to tell someone something they need to hear. I vowed to tell Mark (hi, Mark-who-never-reads-this-blog!) that he’s my best friend and there’s no one else in the world I’d want share my life with.

And I guess I’m wondering what do the people you love need to hear that maybe you’ve forgotten or put off telling them?

Go like the Tell Them app on Facebook and come back here and share your vow and Hallmark will send a greeting card pack to one of you guys. One of my readers. That’s right, an official giveaway!

*I totally had to Google mel gibson blue paint to remember the name of the movie. Also sad? I’ve never even seen Braveheart…

Hey, Mark! Where’s the Oven?

Also known as,  A Lesson in ‘No, thanks’.

There is another sweet older lady that lives downstairs. Not the crazy one with lipstick on her teeth, but a sweet one that brings toys for Otis (she used to watch kids) and gave us a loaf of bread at Christmas.

That loaf of bread happend to be Amish Friendship Bread. It was delicious. Well, last week she came upstairs to give us a bag of blocks and a blanket and she asked about the bread.

Me: It was wonderful!
Mark: I didn’t get any…
Me: Ya snooze, ya lose…
Neighbor Lady: Would you like your own starter? You can make some for yourself…
Inside my head: Oh dear. I don’t even know where our oven is…
Me: Um, duh! I love baking! You do bake it… right?
Neighbor Lady: Yes, you’ll have to bake it by Saturday. That’s Day 10. You just add some basic ingredients…
Inside my head and totally not listening to Neighbor Lady: Crapcrapcrap. Ingredients? I don’t have ingredients! I wonder if there are microwave directions…
Me: Yeah, I think we have all of that! Yeah, this will be great!
Neighbor Lady: Great! I’ll go get the starter for you.

Crap. “No, thanks! I don’t know where the oven is” would have been a much better answer, but no. I had to offer myself up to the Amish Friendship Bread altar.

Mark: You’re going to bake?
Me: Duh.
Mark: …

He don’t know me.

Neighbor Lady: Here’s the starter (hands me a ziplock bag of liquid) and the recipe. And don’t worry, if you lose the starter the recipe for it is on the second page.
Inside my head: Lose the starter? It can run away? Is it not dead yet? Crapcrapcrap.
Me: Thanks! I can’t wait until Saturday! Or should I say Baker Day! Ha!

Oh dear.

It was a Wednesday night. I had 2 days until B-day. Until Saturday the only thing I had to do was “Mush the bag”. Easy enough, right?

Mark: Did you mush your bag today?
Me: Crap.
Mark: Are you sure you want to do this? We can give it to my mom…
Me: I GOT THIS.

Baker Day finally got here and I realized it was do or die. I mushed my bag and started reading the directions. For the first time. I read the directions (past “Mush the bag”) FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Me: Do we have flour?
Mark: I think so.
Me: Salt?
Mark: Yes.
Me: Eggs?
Mark: Ummm… yeah. We have some…I think.
Me: Whatever it probably isn’t important.

So I got started. Here’s the thing, the only motivation that I had to make this bread was to get it off of my counter. I thought, “I’ll make it, be done and move on with life”.

But that’s not how Amish Friendship Bread works.

The very first thing you do with Amish Friendship Bread is make 4 more starters. FOUR MORE STARTERS, PEOPLE.  I went from having one bag of liquid bread to having four. If I read the directions all the way through I might have been able to stop it, but psh. Reading directions is for wusses.

After I scooped out the 4 starters, it was time to make the actual bread.

Me: Oh, crap. This thing needs instant vanilla pudding.
Mark: We have some!
Me: No, we have instant lemon pudding. And we have cook & serve chocolate pudding. Where did we get all of this pudding?

After a lengthy discussion about the difference between instant and cook & serve and whether we’d rather eat lemon Amish Bread or chocolate Amish Bread we decided to go with cook & seve chocolate pudding.

At this point Mark decided to tag team with me. I had most of the ingredients out and ready to go, but I guess I sounded like I was having so much fun that he just needed to get in on the action.

Mark: Cinnamon? Do you think we should put it in there?
Me: Why not?
Mark: Cinnamon and chocolate?
Me: You’re right. Take it out.

Mark: We only have 2 eggs. It wants 3.
Me: Uh oh.
Mark: Eh, they’re large eggs.
Me: Make it work.

By the end of it all we had taken out the cinnamon, replaced instant vanilla pudding with cook & serve chocolate pudding and used 2 (large) eggs instead of 3. Oh, and since we don’t have loaf pans we put them in a large rectangle pan and a circle pan. Needless to say, before we put the bread in the oven we said a prayer. Or two.

And that’s why, as we search for a house, I consider a kitchen completely optional.

Also, the Amish Friendship BrownieBread  was actually kind of awesome. In the name of Jesus.