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Grandpa’s Last Words and how they Changed my Life

It is not very often that you get to hear someone’s last words. This experience, though special, is not something most people want to experience. Because inevitably, it means someone has died. I never really got to hear a ‘last words’ speech with either of my Grandmas and my other Grandpa is still alive.

Me and my Grandpa before he died and gave me his last words
Being with my Grandpa Haroldsen one last time before he passed away.

Getting to Know my Grandpa

My Grandpa sitting on the couch before his last words
I was impressed at his flexibility at 80 years old!

My Grandpa Haroldsen was a stern man. He always liked to be on time and he frequently didn’t have patience for the crazy antics of me and my four siblings. And to his credit, we were rambunctious kids.

He worked an egg farm and had spent much of his life working hard. Every morning he had a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. He read the paper and when we would come and visit, he would wake us up way too early in the morning by rubbing his unshaven, prickly whiskers on our faces. If you think an alarm clock is bad, you should try that.

One of My Memories

Because we grew up in Alaska, he and my Grandma would frequently fly up to visit us. This allowed us to spend some time with our grandparents without my parents having to drag all of us to the Lower 48. (And yes, that is what we call the continental US. My husband makes fun of me and says that we must refer to ourselves as the Upper 1)

One Christmas, when my grandparents were visiting, I woke up early to go sneak a peak at what Santa had brought for us. It was around 3 in the morning. And to my surprise, and honestly, disappointment, my Grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table with my sister’s globe that she had gotten for Christmas. He spun it on the table, obviously caught in some distant memory.

I said, “hi Grandpa.” Hoping that that would be my only required discussion with him, I anxiously looked around him to the couch where my presents were hiding.

“Good morning, Jennifer.” He then asked me if I knew where he and my Grandma had traveled.

I shook my head. And for the next 3 hours, he regaled me with all of his journeyings throughout the world. He pointed all of them out on the map. At some point I had to sit down on the floor, because I had gotten tired.

At 6 am I was rescued by my brother who emerged and distracted my Grandpa long enough for me to FINALLY see what presents I had. I will never forget that lecture of his world travel, at least the fact that we had it.

When My Grandpa was Dying

I was a sophomore in college. Right before I was about to go back home for the summer, I decided I would drive up to Idaho and keep my Grandma company for a couple of weeks. I wanted to be there for her and help her out.

Spending time with my grandma while i received my grandpa's last words

I also wanted to spend time with my Grandpa who had been diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. He had been put on hospice, and I knew it was probably the last time I would see him. That trip holds some of my most tender moments with both of my Grandparents.

Aside from my Grandpa’s last words, I remember being by the dining room and kitchen when my Grandma got off the phone with someone. She held the phone and let her hand fall to her side before looking at me. “I wish people would quit asking me how I’m doing.” She started crying and I held her while I cried too.

She gave me that. That impossible urge to cry when someone else does was her doing. My mom has that curse too.

My Grandpa’s Unofficial Last Words

My Grandpa right before he passed away and gave me his last wordsTo me, they are his last words, because it was the last time he tried to impart wisdom to me. He said them to me in full awareness that he wouldn’t be seeing me again once I left and I wouldn’t be seeing him until I died.

He had just let me win a game of Twenty Thousand with him… I know, because I tried to let him win and was finding it extremely difficult to do so. And he was lying on his hospice bed and I was lying on my Grandma’s daybed that they had put in there for her. We were mindlessly watching some TV show. And while we’re both laying there, he says, “Honor your Marriage Covenants. That is the most important thing.”

Kissing my grandpa on the head before he died and gave me his last words“Okay, Grandpa.”

And that was it. His last words were short. I wasn’t even looking at him when he had said them, but they stuck. I guess that’s the thing about last words. They are impactful enough to stick.

Understanding His Last Words

If you are unfamiliar with my religion, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is important, because it will help you to understand the impact of what my Grandpa’s last words were when he said, Marriage Covenants.

my grandpa following his own last wordsWhen we are married, we get married in the temple. We believe that as Husband and Wife, we are sealed toget her as a family unit for Time (life on earth) and all Eternity (life after earth). This means that we are bound together, our children will be bound to us and nothing will be able to separate us, unless we break our covenants.

That means at the end of my Grandpa’s life, the last words that he felt were essential to share with me was his over arching wisdom that when all is said and done, our family is the most important. Family is the most crucial thing to fight for. If you honor your Marriage Covenants, you will get to be with your family FOREVER. And my poor Grandpa, knew that that is what he wanted after he passed.

He was going to be separated from my Grandma for a time. But he loved her so much and his children so much, that fighting to keep that bond in place was the most crucial thing he could have imparted to me, even though at the time, I was not married.

Keeping My Promise

My husband and I adhering to his last wordsHis last words still pop into my mind from time to time. Keeping your marriage covenants includes commandments such as being faithful to each other, loving God and loving our fellow man. The best part about these covenants is the more we adhere to them, the closer we grow to each other, the more we want to be together and the stronger our bond on earth becomes.

I love my husband so much. He is my strength and my support. There are many times when I feel like I am weak and he is there to lift me back up again and cheer me on.

My grandpa’s last words were not just important for the eternities, they are essential for me now. They remind me of my love for Austin. And by adhering to them, we become better friends every day.

A Note to My Grandpa

I know you’re not physically here now. I’m so happy that now you get to be with Grandma. But I hope you know that by having the courage to share some last words with me, you have impacted my life for the better. I know it was probably scary to share them with me, acknowledging the fact that we weren’t going to be together that much longer. You broke the unspoken rule and brought attention to the fact that this was temporary. I am so grateful that you did. It probably didn’t seem like it made much difference to me, but it did. I heard you and I’m trying to do as you instructed. I love you Grandpa. Save a spot for my family next to yours.

To read about one of the ways we are trying to honor our marriage covenants, you can visit: My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

Shiplap Headboard DIY – for the “Non-Carpenter”

This is for the non-carpenter because making this shiplap headboard requires no special tools or skills whatsoever. I love to do wood working, even though I am not very good at it and I don’t really have tools. I have one electric saw, and it’s a little circular handsaw that can be inaccurate and quite dangerous to use. So, I have to resort to other, less expensive tools to get my stuff done.

This entire shiplap headboard cost me less than $50. Yours could be even cheaper if you have some of the stuff laying around the house that I didn’t.

 

List of Supplies for Shiplap Headboard

Shiplap headboard suppliesThese dimensions are for a Queen size bed. I will explain how to adjust them if you have a different size bed.

  • 2 sheets of 5.0MM 4×8 Underlayment –
    • One of them will need to be cut into 6, 6 inch strips (for a height of 36 inches or 3 feet) that go with the grain and are the length of the width of your bed. (Mine was 62 inches) Pieces – A
    • The other piece should be cut the width of your bed (62 inches) and the height that you want your headboard to be OVER your mattress. (For me that was 36 inches)  Piece – B
  • Enough 2x3s to be cut at the following lengths:
    • 1-62 inches (width of bed) – C
    • 2-60 inches (height of headboard plus the height of your bed, or if you want to mount it to the wall, just the height of your headboard) – D
    • 3-57 inches (these will be hidden and provide structure to the frame. You have to subtract 5 inches from the width, because each of the 2x3s are 2 1/2 inches wide) – EAlternative solution for smaller screws on shiplap headboard
  • Hand Saw (or table saw if you own one)
  • Sand paper
  • Sponge brush or a rag (some way to apply stain
  • Screws (preferably 3 inches, but if you only have shorter ones, you can do what I had to do with 90 degree brackets)
  • Staple gun & Staples
  • Screw driver
  • Wood Glue
  • Stain (I have 4 different colors on mine)

Notes on the Supplies:

I didn’t have any stain lying around the house, but if you do, you could totally use it. I hardly used any to create this so I still have a ton of left overs. If you don’t have to buy stain, this shiplap headboard is only like $30.

Also, having longer screws would probably save you some money too. The brackets weren’t necessary, I just used them because I didn’t want to go to the store.

You can have all of the boards cut for you at a home improvement store. They just can’t do anything less than a foot for the last piece. So, with the boards, you can get 6, 6 inch strips, but they won’t do the last one for you because there would only be 6 inches on both sides of the saw. They need at least a foot of clearance.

Having it cut at the store will also make it easier for you to take it home in a smaller car.

 

Building the Frame

The easiest way to frame this is to lay piece B on the ground (the full sheet of Underlayment) and then place the pieces of wood on top in their respective spots.

placement of 2x3s for shiplap headboard

I just placed the boards on top of the frame. I didn’t measure distances between them or anything, except to check that the E and C boards were all parallel.

how to tack the boards together temporarily for framing on shiplap headboardAfter laying them out, I got my staple gun to just keep them in place, like the picture to the left.

It was after this step that I realized my longest screws were only 2 1/2 inches so that wasn’t going to be long enough, because that’s how wide the 2x3s are. So, I had to improvise. If you have longer screws, it will be much easier to just take your gun to the side of the frame and line it up with your horizontal beams and connect them that way.

Otherwise, you can do what I had to do with my tools on hand. It still worked just fine. And if you don’t have 90 degree brackets, you could probably use nails at an angle on both sides of the E 2×3 to connect them.improvisation to connect all the 2x3s on shiplap headboard

First, I used a couple more staples to secure it before I tried to line up the bracket in the joint. Because of the tight quarters, drilling was a challenge with the gun. I drilled some pilot holes and then the screws came second. It was very sturdy and worked just fine, even if it wasn’t the prettiest look.

After I put one underneath each side of the parallel rows, the framing was complete.

Attaching the Decorative Piece to the Frame

Lay the B board on top, line it up and staple all around the outside. Just for my husband’s piece of mind I also found some little nails and nailed in between each staple so that there was a little more stability. Put as many staples or nails on there that make you feel comfortable. I had some sort of support (nail or staple) about every 6 inches or so.

Then, with your future shiplap headboard lying on the ground, piece B side up, pull out all of your A pieces and put them on top. It should look something like this:

 I actually kind of like the way the boards look just straight across without chopping them up, so that is an option as well for your shiplap headboard. You could also choose to do them all the same color and give it a more cohesive look rather than the distressed wood look I was going for.

 

Cutting the Boards

If you want to create more of a pieced together look, like the one I did, you will need to divide your boards into 2 foot segments, varying the starting points for your measurements.

lengths of shiplap pieces on shiplap headboard

Think of it as if the boards were all 24 inches to begin with and so on the ends sometimes you had to cut off whatever was remaining so that it was flush and then you decided to start another one with that smaller piece. You’re welcome to use mine as a guide. I tried to keep my starting pieces in increments of 6 inches so it was easy to keep track of. The 2 inch one at the top is from the flipped around one that I showed you a couple rows down.

ripped grain on board for shiplap headboardCut the boards with the uglier side down. One of the sides of underlayment looks a lot like wood. The other side is a little fake looking. Choose the side you want to use and have that side facing you when you saw, because the other side will rip the grain.

The side I am showing you is the one you will want to be pressed against your B board so no one but you will know it is there. This was the side I could not see when I was sawing.

Sanding

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t sand the surface of the board. The layer of wood grain on the top is very thin and you don’t want to sand that off. Just use your sandpaper or sponge for the edges, particularly the one where the grain is perpendicular. Use your sandpaper to make sure there are not any jagged edges poking past the board.

edges of boards before they are sanded
You don’t want your ends to look like this.

Making the Map

Once you have got a nice stack of cut wood, lay it out on the board the way you want it to look. Hopefully you kept the boards in some sort of order so that this portion is a little easier for you. Being able to switch all of the pieces that are 24 inches comes in handy when you want it to look like all of the pieces are coming form different boards.

cut pieces for shiplap headboardThis is the same picture as up above, but without the lengths on it. You’ll notice that the grain is different from piece to piece. Once I had the pieces laid out, I just looked for obvious spots that were two connected pieces.

You’ll notice on the second row from the bottom, all the way to the left, it is the same board continuing. You can even just turn one of those upside down so it looks like it came from a different part.

This isn’t essential now, because you will still do some adjusting once the boards are stained. But you want to switch them if you are going to switch them. Take a picture with your phone when you’re done.

Staining

Depending on how many stains you have and how many pieces are in each row, you will want to try and put as many different colors in each row to create a random, but also pleasant looking shiplap headboard. I just tried to take one board from each row (where possible) and in varying locations along the width and then put those pieces in a pile. I had four piles, 2 with 5 boards and 2 with 6 boards. Each pile got a different color stain.

staining the shiplap headboard pieces

stained shiplap headboard pieces

After you have stained your fake shiplap and it has had about 15 minutes to soak into the wood, take a paper towel or a towel you don’t care about and rub the stain off in the direction of the grain. This will prevent it from becoming sticky.

Let the pieces dry over night.

You will also want to stain the outside of the frame, just the parts that will be showing. That way it looks like a cohesive unit.

stained frame for shiplap headboard
you can see where I stained it, and the fact that my cat was with me throughout this entire process.

Assembling the puzzle!

Once the pieces are all dry, usually the next morning. Lay them all out on the headboard piece B the way you want them. It’s okay if it doesn’t look exactly the way the first one did, but the picture you took can help. It should look something like this.

A pieces laid on top of frame for shiplap headboard

I made some tweaks once I got it in place, for example you will see two honey colored pieces on the second row from the bottom, even though I wanted there to not be a duplicate of color on each row. It just looked better that way. Feel free to make as many tweaks as you need to to get the look you want.

Attaching the A Pieces

nickle spacing for DIY shiplap headboardFirst, I glued all of the pieces to Piece B with wood glue, each time making sure to have about a nickel’s width in between each board. This allows you to see each board and give it a nice little outline.

The glue is good, but unfortunately it is not going to be sufficient. Some of the boards might have gotten a little warped, or the staples or nails are poking up just enough so that the underlayment pieces can’t lay flush.

gluing the A pieces to the shiplap headboard frameBut put the glue on anyways, because it will keep your boards in place and might work quite well for some of the middle pieces.

letting it dry shiplap headboard
Letting the Glue Dry

Once you have let the glue dry, you can take your staple gun or some little nails and attach the pieces that are poking up. I also did this along the top and bottom because that is where the rows of staples and nails were, making it a consistent problem.

So, just staple or nail where you need to. After all, the shiplap headboard can look a little rustic and nails or staples will only enhance that look.

 

Attaching the Shiplap Headboard

If you have the legs go all the way to the ground, you can just attach the shiplap headboard to the bed frame like I did.

The frame had a couple of holes and I just attached four screws to each leg to hold it in place. It is best if you can have someone hold it in place for you while you do this. That way you make sure it doesn’t start to lean towards you as you do it… like what happened to me.

If you don’t have someone to hold it, lean the headboard against the wall at an angle and then use something to prop up the other end of the frame up so that the headboard legs line up at the right angle with the frame.

I didn’t have to use more support than this, but wouldn’t have minded putting some diagonal ones attaching the frame and the bed at a secondary point. This is not necessary, but it makes me feel a little better about.

Maybe one day I will add it and share the picture.

Once you’re all done attaching the frame, put the bed spring back, then the mattress and make your bed!

Congrats! You just made a beautiful shiplap headboard that made your bed finally pop and be more than a mattress. And the best part, it cost hardly anything!

 

finished product shiplap headboard

One Other Option

One more thing I would like to do to my shiplap headboard, is put a little border around the edge to make it look a little more finished. I would just use a thin angled piece of wood around the edges that was stained my favorite color.

More DIY Projects:

If you liked making the shiplap headboard and are wanting ideas for a nursery you can see how I changed a bookshelf into a changing table!

12 Moments When Your Baby WILL NOT Sleep Through the Night

Some parents are lucky and their baby starts sleeping through the night. Other parents are extremely talented and they lull their baby into a tender unconsciousness for the duration of the night.I have not been so lucky. My baby will not sleep through the night.

We have tried everything it feels like. He eats a ton and wakes up to eat all the time and he REALLY eats! I think we are just doomed to endure. When your baby will not sleep through the night, I think you are with me on these 12 moments you get to embrace.

1. When you make sure his bedtime routine has been performed with perfection and he has been properly pampered:

2. When you got him to go to sleep and you’re pretty sure tonight’s the night:

3. When you just have to check on him one last time:

4. When you hear him start to fuss and realize once again, your baby will not sleep through the night:

5. When you wish your husband would shout this:

6. When you climb back into bed, are on the brink of falling asleep and you hear him:

7. When you wake, but you knew it was coming and it’s probably the last time:

8. When it wasn’t the last time and you’re up 30 minutes later:

9. When that wasn’t the last time either and you’re up 30 minutes later again:

 

10. When your alarm clock goes off:

11. When you try to be a normal person every day:

No one can know for certain how long this will last. Our son is almost 6 months old… and that baby will not sleep through the night. I long for and pray for the day when I find moment number 12.

12. When you finally wake up and realize it’s the morning and the last time you were conscious is when you chose to go to bed:

 

If you want to read about one of my ACTUAL horrible nights, ENJOY!

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can. 

Cake Smash Fail – Definitely Not Pinterest Perfect

In my days before I knew that I was not Pinterest Perfect, I thought it would be a great idea to make a cake for my daughter’s first birthday and we could do a Cake Smash! Smashin’ idea, eh? It was going to be brilliant! I made a cake that looked like one of the owls on her precious owl blanket. This was going to be so fun!

And then of course, being the photographers that we are, we were going to document every fun, messy second. Bring the Cake Smash on!

one-year-old-in-the-middle-of cake smash

Building the Cake

I did two layers. I know, I’m so fancy! There were different colors of frosting that I had made with cream cheese so not only was it going to look pretty but it was going to taste pretty darn good. I spent an entire afternoon creating my masterpiece and I wanted it to look just like her blankie.

All in all, I think I did a good job. It looked like a cake fit for my princess to smash.

cake smash-cake, my perfect creation!

Finding a Time

This was tricky, because my husband’s work schedule was busy, the Holidays were upon us and we didn’t necessarily want a big audience around while we went crazy with our camera. We ended up having to wait a couple of days after her birthday before we could do it... which affected the density of the cake

Finally, we got her in her cute little bootie cover and got everything all set up. Time to show off our cute, messy angel to the world.

 

The Cake Smash

This Cake Smash wasn’t exactly what you would call a success. First of all, our daughter didn’t seem remotely interested in the cake. She was more interested in the lights we had set up and the big giant cameras in front of her parent’s faces.

Well, the Cake Smash was a giant FAILURE! My cake that I had spent hours meticulously baking and decorating was hard as a rock and she tried everything to dig into it, but to no avail. 

 

1-year-old-pushing-down-on-cake smash-cake

1-year-old-trying-to-penetrate-cake smash-cake-with-teeth

Finally, we tore a chunk off for her and she at least got to taste it, but her interest faded shortly thereafter.

trying-some-of-the-cake smash-cake

 

We tried the cake too. It was now like a calcified brick with baby slobber all over the top. Needless to say, we ended up having to throw the whole thing away. So sad!

Lessons Learned

Sometimes it’s just better to pay for a cake. I am obviously not a Cake Smash baking expert.

Don’t assume your child likes to get messy. Ours hates it.

When it comes to kids, it’s okay to let go of expectations, because it is never going to go the way you planned.

You will still get adorable pictures though!

1-year-old-not-getting-to-enjoy-cake smash-cake

More Mom Fails!

For more Mom Fails check out: 5 Mom Moments That Were NOT Funny at the Time.

Or, enjoy my failure at trying to teach my daughter how to use the potty.

My Daughter – Ambassador of Light

I’m sure most people feel the way about their kids that I do about my daughter. She lights up my world. My son does too. This post however, is about my daughter. It is over the last two years of having her in our home that I have come to realize just how special she is. Let me share with you what little I know about my daughter’s potential.

When I First Met My Daughter

My daughter was born in the afternoon after a grueling labor. Twenty hours of labor and three and a half hours of pushing. As I finally got her out of me, I collapsed in a kind of exhaustion that I think few have experienced. My body and spirit felt broken and I didn’t know if I would ever be the same again.

I was right in being worried; I never was the same again. But it wasn’t because of my delivery experience. It was because of the big, beautiful eyes looking up at me when they placed her in my arms. She made me a mommy. Her eyes were wide and it seemed like she was seeing more of me than I have ever seen of me. My baby girl was perfect.

my daughter-at-6-months-old-looking-up
Looking-at-my daughter-right-after-she-is-born

The First Sign

The first sign of just how special my daughter really is, was the complication with the umbilical cord. We found out after I had delivered that the cord was small and that it had a knot in it. If she had somehow managed to tighten the cord during her 9 month stay in my womb, she would have died. If it had pulled tight during delivery, she could have died. But somehow, through all of that, she survived.

Survival

She survived during a very rough postpartum for me. Our challenging stay in China would have been enough to rattle the calmest of babies, yet she survived.

I got really sick when she was just two and a half months old (bronchitis, tonsillitis, a viral infection and the flu). My temperature was 104 and I finally had to an IV with antibiotics to knock out the infection. Yet somehow, she never got sick. Not one time during the China trip did she get sick.

We rode in taxis without seat belts or car seats (because they didn’t have them) on what looked like some of the most dangerous roads we’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. Granted, we were observing with our Western eyes.

She has shown her resiliency time and time again, proving to me that she is here on earth to bring light to those in darkness.

waiting-at-a-bus-stop-with-my daughter

Helping her Brother

Grayson, has not been as easy-going as his sister was. Perhaps it is because he was not forced into a life of nomadic venturing from the very beginning. He gets very upset when he cannot go to sleep on his bed, our bed or someone else’s bed.

If we are out and about and he is having a hard time, Siena will grab his hand and say, “It’s okay.” She’ll give him her favorite blanket and her favorite baby. If I need her to, she will run and grab his pacifier so that he will have something to suck on. She wants to help her baby brother to be happy.

my daughter-holding-her-brothers-hand

Helping her Mommy

About a month ago, I got the flu after she did. She had thrown up, been miserable and then of course, it was my turn.

I was laying on the couch, perpetually letting Daniel Tiger occupy the screen so that I would have to get up as little as possible.

At some point, Siena came over and patted my hand and then climbed up with me. She snuggled next to me, grabbed my arm, put it on herself and held my hand to make me feel better.

my daughter-holding-her-mommy's-hand
My daughter-at-6-months-old

What I See

Every day she is learning. She creates new things, comes up with new words, or impresses me with her actions as she learns to be a good person.

One of the things she absolutely loves to do, is be a mama. She tries to do everything I do, so I have to watch what I do sometimes. I have to send her out of the room before I trim my bangs… because we all know what could happen if she found scissors and decided she wanted to be like mama.

She puts her baby and bunnies to bed. She tries to feed Grayson. Her favorite thing to wear when mama wears boots, is her boots that match. She likes to sit in the sink while I get ready and pretend to put lotion on her face while I’m getting ready. She loves to wear a backpack and get ready to go because I have a diaper bag backpack that goes everywhere with us. Our baby girl is a Mama in training.

Siena loves music. She dances, tries to play the piano and sings along when her mama is singing at the top of her lungs. She laughs when she tries new things at the thrill of doing something new. My daughter is the sweetest.

She is Human

She gets angry, throws tantrums and tries to kick the cat. My daughter is imperfect, but her human nature is not ever going dissolve her worth.

my daughter-sleeping-as-a-newborn

Rarity in Vision

It is rare that someone gets the opportunity to see just how special someone is. I think that is the role of a parent. I doubt anyone will see as much as I, her intrinsic value. She has overcome so much already and she is only two years old.

I can already see her doing so much. One day she’ll light the world. She is going to accomplish so much and become so much. I can't wait to be a witness to it. Even now, there are so many people who want to talk to her because she is lighting up their day. My daughter is an ambassador of light and one day, everyone else will see it too.

Flying with an Infant – It’ll be Okay!

Flying with an Infant

I’m not going to claim to be an expert on flying with an infant, but if there was an expert based solely on experience, that person would be me. This is not a brag list, but a comprehensive list so you can understand that when you are reading my advice, I have some life lessons backing me up.

Flights during the first 6 months of my First Baby’s Life

1. Raleigh, North Carolina --> Denver, Colorado – 1 week old
2. Denver, Colorado --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 1 month old
3. Salt Lake City, Utah --> San Francisco, California – 6 weeks old
4. San Francisco, California --> Shanghai, China – 6 weeks old
5. Shanghai, China --> Shenzhen, China – 2 months old
6. Guangzhou, China --> Shanghai, China – 2 ½ months old
7. Beijing, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
8. Shanghai, China --> Xi’an, China – 4 months old
9. Xi’an, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
10. Shanghai, China --> Hong Kong, China – 4 months old
11. Hong Kong China --> Taipei, Taiwan – 4 months old
12. Taipei, Taiwan --> Hong Kong, China – 4 months old
13. Hong Kong, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
14. Shanghai, China --> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 5 months old
15. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --> Singapore, Singapore – 5 months old
16. Singapore, Singapore --> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 5 months old
17. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --> Shanghai, China – 5 months old
18. Shanghai, China --> Los Angeles, California – 5 months old
19. Los Angeles, California --> San Francisco, California – 5 months old
20. San Francisco, California --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 5 months old
21. Idaho Falls, Idaho --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 6 months old
22. Salt Lake City, Utah --> Denver, Colorado – 6 months old
23. Denver, Colorado --> Detroit, Michigan - 6 months old

Map of all of infant's first 23 flights for flying with an infant

If you were thinking that we must be insane then you are correct. I don’t know what we were thinking, but we have all survived and lived to tell the tale.

This also does not include the many train rides, bus rides, taxi rides, metro rides or road trips that were also a part of my daughter’s first 6 months of life. I am sure in her big baby brain, she probably thought that her family must be gypsies and she was doomed to a life of constant change.

The best part about this list is that on flight number 23, someone asked me if this was my baby’s first flight and I just laughed.

So, from someone who has REALLY been there, here are my juicy secrets:

Call Ahead

If you will be flying with an infant, call ahead. Especially on International flights, but even on Domestic flights, it’s possible that they have a baby bassinet and you’ll be able to lay your angel inside of it and just let him sleep. They can also put you in an emptier row, or closer to the bathroom with a changing table. Let the crew know about your situation so they can be a team player for you.

breastfeeding-on-the-plane-while-flying with an infant

Take a Bottle & Some Formula

I don’t care if you are exclusively breast feeding your baby or if you have so much milk you feel like you might explode. If you are a new Mama, you may not know how much milk you are producing and it might be awkward to bust out your boob for the general public.

Also, flying with an infant can be very stressful and stress affects milk production. Bringing a bottle also provides a way for your spouse to feel like they can be helpful too. You don’t have to use the bottle, but having it can be a lifesaver.

My experience: I didn’t think to bring one until the very end of our 6 month journey. All of the flights were hard. We were stressed out of our minds and so concerned about our little baby girl. On our flight out to China, I figured I would just breastfeed her in our row. We had the whole row to ourselves, and I breastfed, but she kept crying and crying. I spent 15 hours onboard an aircraft, with no escape and other passengers watching, trying to soothe a screaming baby.

Hindsight is 20/20 and if I could go back and tell myself, I would say to bring a bottle. I don’t think she was getting enough milk to fill her belly enough to fall asleep. My poor exhausted baby was hungry and her poor stressed mother couldn’t feed her.

Just swallow your pride and bring a bottle.

Bring a Pacifier

Even if you don’t typically let your baby suck on a pacifier, this can be a lifesaver when taking off and landing. The elevation changes can hurt your babies ears and giving him something to suck on will naturally release the pressure in his ears.

Also, flying with an infant is just as stressful to the baby as it is to Mommy and Daddy. Providing the baby with some way to self soothe can help him feel safer and more secure.

If for some reason you forget a pacifier or lose it, I would let Siena suck on my finger. Sometimes you might not be able to reach it. After all, the flight attendants want those bags to stay in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing.

Pack Extra Diapers and a Change of Clothes

You never know when a blow out can strike! My son is an eating, sleeping, pooping machine. And when I say that, I mean he eats and eats and eats and then a couple of days later, he explodes. He has a blow out almost EVERY time he poops. I literally have to catch him in the act to prevent a desecration of his outfit.

There are also other bodily fluids to worry about. For example, vomit, spit up, urine, blood… Someone could spill a drink on your baby. It could be raining. It’s always good to be prepared.

Flying with an infant is not always predictable. On our way back from China, we missed our second flight, due to delays with the first one. We couldn’t make it to Salt Lake that night, had to fly to San Francisco instead to try and catch the last flight out there. Then we missed that one and had to spend the night in a hotel. We were very glad that we had packed extra diapers and a change of clothes for our daughter in the carry on but our own clothing situation was not as fortunate.

sitting-in-the-airport-waiting-to-be-flying with an infant

If you want to read about the most memorable time I forgot to bring an extra diaper, you can read about one of my many Mom Moments.

Ignore the Looks of Disapproval

MOST OF THE TIME people are SO NICE! Even flying as frequently as we do, I have found very few people who are shooting daggers at me. In fact, the only lady who I think legitimately hated us was someone who sat in front of me and my 18 month old daughter, who decided that kicking the chair in front of her was the best sensation her feet could experience.

But I had so many people offer to help, or the flight attendants would ask how they could help. One flight attendant gave me an entire liter water bottle so that I had enough water to mix bottles for Siena on the very long flight.

I’ve had nice passengers hold my kid while I grab something, make sure she didn’t fall, lifted my bag for me. You will not believe how amazing people are, so if someone is being a jerk, ignore them. Most people are NOT thinking the same thing. In fact most people have had to experience flying with an infant themselves. They get it.

flying with an infant-using-the-joey

Use the “Joey”

We call those backpack, baby carrier things, the “Joey”. The Joe saved our lives. A stroller is bulky. When you have a toddler or heavy baby, sure, bring a stroller. But when you have a little infant baby, bring a Joey. The closeness will make your sweetheart feel more secure and if you’re lucky, flying with an infant will be even easier because as you’re going through the airport your little one will fall asleep from the gentle rocking motion.

However, expect to take the Joey off at security. Apparently a Joey is a good place to hide drugs or something.

This is especially important when you are traveling out of the country. Americans have a lot more baby gear than most other countries. One day I will tell you all about some of our experiences with our “gear” in China. But suffice it to say, the Joey became our best friend.

Trust Your Gut

Flying with an infant can be nerve-racking. The worst place I could imagine losing your child is an airport, so trust your gut.

When we were traveling from Beijing to Shanghai, a security personnel offered to hold my baby while they scanned me with their little hand scanner. I did not want any of them to hold my baby. I felt extremely uncomfortable with the situation.

A man kept retranslating as if I didn’t understand that I needed to hand my baby to the woman. I told him no. I was not going to do that. He looked exasperated so I pointed to my husband and told him that he was going to hold my baby.

Don’t be afraid to say no. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, especially when it comes to your kid, trust your gut! I suspect my baby would have been fine, but I was much happier waiting for Austin to come and join me and hand him my little baby. No one can force you to do something you don’t want to do.

This is ONLY a situation that we ran into in Beijing. No one else asked to hold my baby while going through security (in case this story scared you). Beijing, in general is a very high security place and the government has a high degree of control and power there.

Blankets: 1, 2 & 3

I recommend 3 blankets, maybe 2… depending on your situation.

1. Swaddle Blanket
2. Warm, Snuggle Blanket
3. Cover Blanket

Numbers 1 & 3 can be interchangeable if you don’t need to do both at the same time. We combined these when we traveled to China because any time our daughter was in the Joey, she couldn’t be swaddled so we would have her thinner blanket to cover her. Protecting her from the light (and nosy faces of potentially sick and contagious onlookers) was essential to having a happy, healthy baby while traveling.

walking-around-while-flying with an infant
waiting-in-the-airport-before-flying with an infant

You Can Do It!

Here’s the thing, you know your baby. You are her Mama or Dada. Don’t ever doubt the significance of that because that is your number one compass. If you think your baby needs that pack of teething crackers, bring them along. If your little one has a favorite blankie, bring that thing. My daughter had an owl blanket that she STILL takes everywhere with her. I think that because it was one of the only constant things in her life, it is now like a lifeline to her.

Every time someone shoots you a look or tries to offer unwanted advice, just remember that God gave you that baby, He trusts you to be her parent. Your opinion about your baby and how to travel with her is the one that matters the most.

You may be tired and worn out by the end of your trip, but the flight will end eventually. Flying with an infant is not an experience that will last forever and you'll usually have a memorable experience to look back on. Pretty soon you’ll be blogging about your own horror stories.

Check out how to entertain your toddler here!

Spicy Fry Sauce – Easy, Healthy & Delicious

The Art of Eyeballing

Here is the delicious Spicy Fry Sauce recipe as promised! On this particular recipe, I don't really have set measurements. You're going to have to use your mouth and just test varying levels of spiciness. It is better if you can just learn to eyeball it because that means less dishes later.

For your convenience, I included pictures of all of my eyeballing amounts so you have a general idea on how much of each ingredient to include to make your Spicy Fry Sauce. And if you really can't handle the eyeballing, I put more specific measurements at the bottom of the recipe for you.

Moderately Healthy

Because I'm not allowed to have ketchup in my current diet, I had to create something just as yummy. Well, this is WAY yummier than just ketchup. Prepare to be content eating 'healthy'.

The only problem is, there is some fat... so you probably shouldn't gorge yourself, like I did yesterday when I literally ate the whole pan of potato wedges myself.

Ingredients-for-spicy fry sauce

Ingredients

-Low Fat Mayo (I used Avocado Oil Mayo)
-Sriracha Sauce
-Cayenne Pepper

Preparation

1. Put Mayo in a resealable container. This is important so you have more for later. I like to create as little work as possible, so if you have some saved for your next yummy snack, it will save you time the next time around.

Mayo-in-container for spicy fry sauce

Squirt in some Sriracha. I just squirt until it looks like I have a sizable dollop.

Mix-sriracha-and-mayo-for-spicy fry sauce

Mix the Sriracha in. This should create a light pinkish, orange color.

sriracha-&-mayo-for-spicy fry sauce

I like it to be spicy, so I add quite a bit of the cayenne pepper. Add as much as you want for as much spice as you want. The more you make it, the less you will have to taste test it.

Cayenne-pepper-in-spicy fry sauce mixture

Last Step: Consume your delicious spicy fry sauce with some Potato Wedges or maybe some Healthy Hamburgers.

Finished-potato wedges with spicy fry sauce

Spicy Fry Sauce Recipe (Exact Measurements)

-1 cup of Mayo
-1/8 cup Sriracha
-1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Taste test for spiciness and enjoy!

Potato Wedges – Easiest After School Snack Ever!

The Perfect, Laziest Potato Wedges Ever!

Guys, I don't mean to brag... maybe a little... but I think I Finished-potato wedgeshave laziness down to an art form. If there is a way to cut corners, I do it. I didn't think that I had time to make the perfect potato wedges, until I took a bunch of short cuts and STILL made the perfect potato wedges! 

They are so delicious and nutritious. Since I'm trying this whole, eat healthy and improve myself physically New Years Resolution, I am trying desperately to find delicious snacks with yummy foods. Potatoes are a great complex carbohydrate that can make you still feel like you're eating comfort food! It literally took me 10 minutes to do the prep and that's including a diaper change in the middle of it. 

Instructions & Ingredients are all listed together below for ease of use. No Allergens.

Ingredients

 

Instructions

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Spray pan with cooking spray. 

3. Cut potatoes into 8 piece wedges. 

4. Lay potato wedges on the greased pan.

put-potato wedges-on-pan

5. Spray the top of the potato wedges with the cooking spray. 

spray-top-of-potato wedges-with-cooking-spray

6. Sprinkle Salt and Seasoning on the top of the sprayed wedges.

season-the-potato wedges

7. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

8. Pull them out of the oven and enjoy them with my delicious fry sauce recipe

Finished-Potato Wedges-in-pan

Potato Wedges for Mom

Mom-eating-her-own-potato wedgesI know I said these were a great after school snack for the kids... and they are. Just pop them in the oven an hour before they come home. But, really, these are a great during the day snack for me.

These wedges are the perfect amount of savory and sometimes I end up eating way more than I should. Like, just now I ate the entire pan while my kids were napping... I guess it's time to make some more!

For my Spicy Fry Sauce Recipe, click here

In the comments below, let me know how you liked the wedges and if they are as kid friendly as I think they are!

 

 

An Even Easier Way!

Look at this super sweet potato wedge cutter!! I am super excited about this because I am way too lazy to cut a potato into eights all by myself. I am always looking for ways to simplify my life. Now cutting up those wedges can be easier than ever!

Easiest Potato Wedges Ever

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Spray pan with cooking spray. 
  3. Cut potatoes into 8 piece wedges. 
  4. Lay potato wedges on the greased pan.
  5. Spray the top of the potato wedges with the cooking spray. 
  6. Sprinkle Salt and Seasoning on the top of the sprayed potato wedges
  7. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  8. Pull them out of the oven and enjoy them with my delicious fry sauce recipe! 

My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

I have seen many articles that my friends have shared about love. Five things your man will do if he’s the one! How a real man treats women, etc. And then of course various articles about what to do better in relationships. Each of these serve their purpose. Of course, a man should treat a woman well (see here). The couple should naturally return each other’s bid (see here).  But I wanted to focus on something that is often overlooked. The fact of the matter is that I am married to an imperfect husband. 

Social Media Praise Danger

My imperfect husband is amazing in so many ways. I often heap on the praise when I wish to publicly wish him Happy Birthday, or really when I mention anything about him on social media. Because I sincerely want people to know how incredible he is, I make sure they see his best side. And I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do this.

There is a danger to this, however, for those who take in these public displays of social media affection at face value. It’s very easy to look around at all of the people portraying these perfect relationships and assume that everyone else gets what love is about. Then you might look at your own situation with despair, whether you are single or are in an imperfect relationship of your own. I am sure we can all see the imperfections in our spouse, in our relationship and perhaps in ourselves. But it is very rare to see an honest depiction of a real relationship from other people.

imperfect husband-&-wife-kissing-in-front-of-temple

The Beginning

I married my imperfect husband, Austin in 2012. We were in our mid-twenties and a little dazed with love. Our relationship hadn’t been all sunshine and roses though. We had had our fair share of disagreements, heartbreak and moments when it seemed like it was never going to work.

A couple of months after we started dating, I sat on a little bench with him outside of my apartment and broke up with him. And the exact phrase I used was that I didn’t feel like this was a fairytale. Isn’t it supposed to be a fairytale? Wasn’t I supposed to get swept away? My poor boyfriend left broken and bewildered.

Words can’t convey the despair that followed that decision for me. I felt like a black hole was sucking me in and I would never emerge again. Happiness had been sucked from my being and I broke down into a sobbing mess. I was having an anxiety attack, which was not completely unusual; I have had them before. In fact, anxiety was part of the reason I had decided to break up with him in the first place. But this attack felt different and I soon realized that I had made the wrong decision.

imperfect husband-and-wife-on-opposite-ends-of-a-bench
imperfect husband-in-the-forefront-of-the-picture

Let’s Get Real

Three days later, I all but got down on my knees to beg him to go out with me again. He said he needed some time to think about it. I backed off and he later came around and said he wanted to go on a drive. We drove up to the top of a mountain and talked.

We had the first half of the talk that I was always terrified I would one day have to have with someone that I intended on marrying. This is the “Let’s Get Real” talk. In an act of bravery unrivaled by any suitors who had come before, my imperfect husband shed light on his weaknesses and flaws. He kicked down the wall of his dating persona and let me see who he is even when he was at his worst.

I didn’t say much. The process of him sharing his imperfections had bristled my own conscience to the memory of my own weaknesses and flaws. But, that night I wasn’t ready to share those with him. I was merely in a state of shock, because I hadn’t expected this kind of sincerity and honesty. When he dropped me off at my apartment, he explained, “I want to get back together with you, but I need you to know the good and the bad of me so you can choose whether you want to be together.”

Let’s Get Real Forever

That night I did a lot of processing and basically came to the conclusion that if he was willing to share with me, I could share with him. The next day we went on another drive and I took my turn.

Over the next few months we began shedding the secrets we had been hiding for years by sharing them with each other. And for the rest of our lives we will continue to share the secrets of the present that would poison our marriage if we let them linger in the shadows.

Imperfect-Wife-standing-in-front-of-imperfect husband

The Most Significant Night of My Life

I will be forever grateful for the courage that my imperfect husband demonstrated that night. He set our relationship on a course of honesty and openness. It has taken so much practice to stay that way, and we are still working at it today but I cannot express the significance of that night enough.

My husband frequently attributes our communicative success to my honesty. And while he is correct in saying that I don’t hesitate to share, that has not always been the case. Austin is the one who took the first step into the dark and let me see all of himself without having any idea of what the repercussion would be. He risked everything and that was the only way the was able to gain everything.

Imperfect husband-and-wife-coming-out-of-the-temple

The Continual Journey of Overcoming

As aware as we are of our own imperfections and shortcomings, that does not stop us from having them. I am frequently quick to judge and my husband can be quick to anger. Those two things do not go well together. I can be a bit careless in my actions and my husband can be a bit regimented. We often butt heads on those issues and just cannot see how the other can think or act so differently.

We have some imperfections that are similar and are therefore magnified because we both have the tendency to act the same way. Austin and I like to have nice things and it is hard to tell each other no when an expensive nicety presents itself to us. Sometimes we like to be lazy and the last thing we want to do is work, clean the house or socialize. So, of course we are lazy together!

imperfect husband-kissing-his-imperfect-wife-on-bench

Our Imperfections Make Us Perfect Together

I have an imperfect husband and he has an imperfect wife. And here is the point that we like to try and forget. I am going to have an imperfect husband for the rest of my life! He will not be constantly doting on me. He won’t always remember to help with the dishes. The sweaty socks that he kicks off after work will probably find their way into the living room in the future. There will probably still be times where he snaps because he is so HANGRY. And that is so great! It is really a relief, because it means that he or she will not hold you to a perfect standard.

An even harder point to remember is that he is going to have an imperfect wife for the rest of his life! I will not always keep the house clean. There will be times when I jump to conclusions about his intentions and rant and rave inside my head. I won’t remember to put the camera away when I’m done or I’ll leave my disgusting hair in the corner of the shower until he can’t stand it anymore and cleans it up. And there will probably still be times when I angrily throw the covers towards him when I get up to go feed the baby, even though I know he is unconscious and unaware of the cyclone surrounding him.

My imperfect husband and his imperfect wife are perfectly suited to be together forever. He makes me a better person every day and I hope I do the same for him.

Love is an Equation

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love. It’s that simple. Perhaps it is easier to think about how this works with your children.

I was pregnant for 9 months for each child I have. So, so far that means I have been pregnant for 18 months. Bleh. I hate being pregnant. I get so big, I feel nauseous most of the time, I feel pain, I’m so uncomfortable and then my reward is that I get to push a human out of me at the end? That’s the sacrifice part.

But I didn’t feel the love until I realized how grateful I was for my baby.

And then I see my little angel baby and I can’t believe that it belongs to me. I can’t believe that I get to be his or her mommy. What a blessing! What a miracle!

I am so in love.

The sacrifice doesn’t stop. I keep cleaning up after them, getting spit up on, pooped on and basically providing all of their needs and wants. I keep working.

Which is why the next part is eternally important.

I don’t always feel the love when I am doing that.

Then I hold them close, think about the dangers that are out there and I am so grateful that they are still my babies. I’m so amazed that they are in my life.

I am still so in love.

Possessing BOTH is Essential

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love

I try to do things that I know will make Austin happy, even if they are not things that I want to do. Every day I do the dishes, literally the worst job in the whole world, fold the laundry, stay home with the kids, make food, and plan trips. I sacrificed a career.

I can forget love when I am only sacrificing all the time.

So, I am grateful for the times when I get to snuggle him at night, when I see him come home safely from another very busy day of work. He is such a great daddy and I am grateful that as soon as he gets home, he spends time with our kids. I am forever grateful that he is mine and that he asked me to marry him.

I will always feel love, no matter the sacrifices I have made.

The Importance of Gratitude

All I have to do when I am sacrificing and not feeling gratitude is remember that I am lucky just to have the people for whom I am sacrificing. There are some people who never get married. There are those who have been divorced. My kids are miracles because I know some people don’t get to experience that. Three of my four grandparents have passed on already and it makes me that much more grateful for the one who is still living and for the two new ones I have inherited from Austin.

imperfect husband-and-wife-standing-in-front-of-the-temple

Strive for an Imperfect Marriage

I love my imperfect husband. I love my imperfect kids. The best thing about imperfection is I know that my husband loves his imperfect wife and my kids love their imperfect mom.

We are the most amazing imperfect family I could ever ask for.

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