Monthly Archives: August 2014

What Ten Years Of Marriage Has Taught Me

    When I was nineteen years old, at my dad’s request, I stopped by Auto Zone to pick up a quart of motor oil. No one expects such a mundane task to become a life defining moment, but in my case it did because the guy who sold me that quart of oil turned out to be my future husband. Ours isn’t a story of love at first sight, he actually asked me to hook him up with a friend that was with me that day (ouch!), but luckily for me she wasn’t interested. He later told me he only went for her because he thought I was out of his league (nice save!). Over the course of several months we became friends and he eventually asked to take me out on a date. I didn’t really want to go, I liked him as a friend and not much more, but didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I agreed. I was surprised when I had a great time. We really clicked and I found myself falling in love. Afterwards, when my best friend called and asked me how the date went, I responded with “He’s the man I am going to marry.” I don’t how I knew, I just did. My prediction came true when we walked down the aisle and said our “I dos” three years later.

   And so our journey as a married couple began. And it has been quite a journey. There have been obstacles and smooth sailing, there have been happy times and devastating times, and there have been successes and failures. We have weathered through them all and made it to ten years of wedded bliss, but not without lessons learned. Here are some of the things that ten years of marriage has taught me:

  • The art of compromise. I went into marriage young and slightly spoiled, and as with many young and spoiled women I had an “it’s my way or the highway” attitude. This caused a lot of clashes in our household the first couple of years, but with some growth and maturity I came to realize that marriage is about what two people want and need, not just what I want and need. There is a lot of give and take in a marriage and I’ve learned to choose my battles wisely. In the big scheme of things, does it really matter what brand of ketchup we buy? Not really, it’s better to keep the peace over the trivial stuff. In my experience, a peaceful household is a happy household.
  • The importance of communication. Almost any book or article on relationships will tell you that good communication is one of the most important elements of a successful relationship. It isn’t just page filler, it’s true. Through the years I have learned that men and women communicate differently. Men expect us to tell them what we want them to do and us women expect them to read our minds and just know what we want them to do. Come on ladies, we are all guilty of it. I used to do it too, and it caused a lot of arguments and tension. Now when I am aggravated at him for sitting and watching tv instead of helping me fold clothes when he sees me doing it right in front of him, I avoid the urge to stew angrily and give him the silent treatment for 24 hours and simply ask him to help me fold the laundry. He always happily puts down the remote and helps. We avoid an argument and the laundry gets done faster, leaving me with a little free time. It’s a win-win all around.
  • Change is a constant. Times they are a changing… and changing…and changing. A lot has happened over the past decade. We’ve lost loved ones and gained loved ones. We’ve begun careers and ended them.We’ve moved away and come back home again. We’ve been on top of the world and we’ve been so low we couldn’t sleep at night wondering how we were going to dig our way back out of the hole we’d found ourselves in. We’ve grown from a family of two to a family of three… and then to a family of four. Life is constantly changing and you have to either change with it or be left behind. Ten years ago I was a carefree, bright eyed twenty-two year old. Now I am a thirty-three year old mother of two with a full time career. Let’s just say my eyes aren’t so bright any more (most likely from lack of sleep). My husband isn’t the same man he was when we got married, either. People grow and change, and it’s important that you and your spouse grow together. It just means there will be new things to love about each other.  Besides, if we all stayed the exact same our entire life, then that would make for a rather dull life.
  • The power of forgiveness. Forgive and forget is a hard concept for me, as it is with many women. We tend to take every harsh word, hurt feeling, and slight, bottle it up and hold it for just the right moment to lash out with it, usually during an argument about a completely different matter altogether. Holding on to resentment and anger is not only unhealthy for a marriage, it’s unhealthy mentally as well. When your spouse does something wrong or hurtful, work through it and let it go. You’ll both be happier for it.
  • Always be supportive. If it’s important to him then it becomes important to me. We encourage each other to achieve our dreams and reach our goals. I’m sure there are times when we are both doubtful that the other is making a good decision, but we jump on the band wagon anyway. It is hard to believe in yourself if your spouse doesn’t believe in you, and vice versa. So swallow your pride (and your criticism) and support whatever crazy endeavor your spouse throws your way.
  • Laughter really is the best medicine. No matter how down, frustrated, or mad I am, my husband manages to make me laugh and pull me out of it. It isn’t only good for marriage, a good chuckle is good for the entire family. The family that laughs together stays together. Want my advice? Marry someone who makes you laugh!
  • Marriage takes effort. Whoever first said that marriage is hard work wasn’t kidding. Marriage is like a garden, you have to constantly nourish it to keep it growing and healthy. Life gets hectic and when kids are thrown in the mix, it can be hard for spouses to connect with one another. Make alone time with your spouse a priority, if only for a couple of hours a week. Don’t stop going on dates, ever. Having fun together is the best way to keep that loving feeling.

    Just as life is what you make of it, so is marriage. The man I lay next to each night is more than just my husband. He is my past, my present, and my future. There is something comforting in knowing someone so well you can finish each other’s sentences. He knows all of my secrets, all of my quirks, and all of my faults … and he still loves me anyway. For that I am forever grateful.

    So tonight I raise a glass to my husband, Kameron. Here’s hoping the next ten years are even more amazing than the first.

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Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls

Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls recipe guest post by  Frugal Tired Mom:

I’m rather obsessed with Pinterest.  I’ve created about a hundred boards, mostly for fantasy, inspiration and enjoyment.  The food boards, however, tempt to me leave my cooking comfort zone and challenge myself with pseudo-gourmet culinary creations.  Some of these attempts have been disastrous, others passable and a few have actually been successful.  This is one of their stories….

Use the bread maker for dough.

Cinnamon rolls are a family favorite.  We don’t enjoy them often as I refuse to buy expensive, insanely unhealthy, frozen cinnamon rolls.  Pinterest offered me an alternative – homemade cinnamon rolls.  The farm stand has been overflowing with blueberries.  It was meant to be.  I studied the recipe, rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Roll out and brush with butter.

Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

The first step in my quest for blueberry cinnamon rolls was to make the dough.  I don’t have a stand mixer and I certainly don’t have a paddle attachment for my hand mixer.  I do have a bread maker which can be used to make dough.  This is what I used.  I layered the ingredients – wet, dry, butter, and yeast in the bread maker, set it on dough and left it alone.  It even rises in the bread maker.  Once the dough was done, I placed it between two large pieces of parchment paper and rolled it out.  The recipe called for a square-shaped dough but that was not happening for me.  My dough came out more roundish like a pizza.  It wasn’t as pretty as the Pinterest page but it worked.

Roll into a dough log.

Step two, the filling, was the easiest part.  I brushed the dough with melted butter and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon all over.  I placed blueberries on the sugars, pressing them slightly into the dough.  It was now time to turn the dough into the rolls. I took one end of the dough and began rolling towards the other side.  The goal is to make dough log.  I managed to make a loose log.  I will have to try to get a tighter roll next time.  I sealed the edges of my dough log to prevent the filling from escaping when the rolls were cut.  The original recipe did an excellent job explaining how to use floss to precisely cut the rolls.   The only floss in my house, however, was spearmint and I wasn’t going to use that.  I carefully used a sharp knife to cut the log into rolls.  I placed the rolls, face side up, in a large baking pan.  I eyeballed the cuts of the rolls, so mine were not exactly the same size.  Again, it was good enough.  I pressed any loose blueberries back into the rolls, covered it and let it rise once more.

Slice into rolls and let rise.

The final steps were also very easy.  I baked the rolls in a preheated oven for about eighteen minutes.  The kitchen filled with the sweet smell of cinnamon while I made the glaze.  I simply whisked together confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, milk and melted butter.  When the rolls were golden brown, I let them cool slightly before drizzling on the glaze.

Bake the rolls.

Make the glaze.

We savored our blueberry cinnamon rolls while they were still warm and sticky.  They were gooey and delicious.  I really liked the addition of the blueberries.  It was like a cross between sticky buns and blueberry pancakes.  YUM! The extra rolls can be stored in airtight container for about two days.  This Pinterest experiment was a roaring success.  Can’t wait to see how the next one goes…Frugal Tired Mom win!

Drizzle the glaze and enjoy!

Total Active Time – 1 hour            Total Cost – $.50/serving

Check out my Pinterest boards for more adventures as Frugal Tired Mom Bakes!

Original recipe found at tutti-dolci.com

Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls (18 Rolls)

Rolls: 3.5 cups flour, 2.5 tsp yeast, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature), 1 egg

Filling: 2 tbl unsalted butter (melted), 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 1.5 cups fresh blueberries

Glaze: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 tbl unsalted butter (melted), 1.5 tsp milk, 1 tbl vanilla extract

1. Make the dough:  Layer the dough ingredients in your bread maker according to the directions.  Apply the dough setting & let it do its magic.

2. Roll out the dough into a square/oblong shape.  Brush with melted butter, leaving 1/4 inch margin edge all around.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Add blueberries, slightly pressing them into the dough.

3. Roll the dough into a log shape.  Seal the edges of the dough before cutting.  Use unflavored dental floss or a sharp knife to slice into rolls.  Place the rolls face side up in a parchment-covered baking pan, cover and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the rolls (uncovered) for about 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly.

5. Make the glaze: Whisk together confectioner’s sugar, milk, melted butter and vanilla extract into a glaze.  Drizzle the glaze on warm rolls.  It will harden as the rolls cool.

Find other great recipes and homemaking tips at frugaltiredmom.com!

Life’s Teachable Moments…

       I took a creative writing class a few years ago and one of our assignments was to write a coming of age story. The kicker was that it had to be our (the students) coming of age story, or at least one of them. So, like the good student that I am, I wrote the story, and like any good writer, I started with the truth and then took a few liberties. So here is my (mostly) true coming of age story:

          It was the summer of 1999 and I was fresh out of high school. I had my whole life ahead of me and could hardly wait to embark on the wondrous journey that was life as an adult. I had a vision of how awesome my adult life was going to be. First, I would move out of my parent’s house and into my own cozy apartment, then, I would purchase my own brand new car, adopt two cute little Chihuahuas which I would carry around in my Gucci purse, and of course, last but not least, meet my tall, dark, and handsome (and hopefully quite wealthy) soulmate and live happily ever after. But my first order of business was to acquire a job. No, not a job … a career.

            I must have put in an application at every restaurant, gas station, and shop in our small town and within two weeks I had landed the prestigious job of manning the shoe department at our local Wal-Mart. I was beyond thrilled! What a great job this was going to be. After all, I had a closet full of shoes so I definitely could be considered a shoe expert. There weren’t many options when it came to shopping in our town so I would be able to flirt with all the cute guys who caroused the shoe aisle and I would probably meet Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome (and hopefully wealthy, though I’m not an entirely materialistic person, so just moderately well off would do) even sooner than planned.

            On my first day of work my shift began at ten in the morning, so I got up at eight-thirty (ridiculously early I know, but career women have to make sacrifices and apparently a few hours of beauty sleep was going to be one of them) showered, shaved my legs, and took great care doing my hair and make-up. I arrived a little after ten, earning a dirty look from Nancy, my supervisor. I’m not sure what her problem was, did she think I woke up looking fabulous for goodness sakes? Then some time was spent arguing about whether it was really necessary for me to wear the famous Wal-Mart apron. I tried to explain to Nancy that I would sell way more shoes the way I was dressed than I would with that baggy apron covering up one of my cutest outfits, but she didn’t seem to get it so I finally just put the silly thing on and tried not to think about it too much. Nancy introduced me to my fellow shoe department associate, Sasha (a thin girl about my age with long, stringy hair with purple streaks in it), and handed me a handheld scanner and demonstrated how to operate it. She then took me to one of the back aisles of the shoe department where a large pile of shoe boxes were stacked against the wall. She explained that I was to scan each shoe box and then put them on the shelf in the appropriate section by size. I quickly got to work so that Nancy would see I was competent and leave, as I was worried that she would scare off all the cute guys with her frizzy hair and bad attitude.

            I didn’t actually meet any cute guys that day, but I figured it was because I was stuck in the back behind the aisles scanning shoes all day. I assumed that was just an initiation of sorts and I would start my real work selling shoes the next day. But all I did was scan and stack, stack and scan, that next day and the entire two weeks afterward. It was mind-numbingly tedious, and Sasha was always giving me the stink eye. She normally scanned shoes in the front aisles, but every now and then she would slink to the back aisle and scan shoes with me, and I could feel her watching me out of the corner of her eye. She was Nancy’s goon, I could tell. But then there was a light at the end of the tunnel … PAYDAY!

          I got to work five minutes early payday morning, receiving a look of surprise from Nancy and a smirk from Sasha. I ignored them both, imagining everything I was going to accomplish with my first paycheck. I would be able to set up first month’s rent on an apartment and maybe even have enough left over to buy a new pair of shoes (not from Wal-Mart, of course). I bounced on the balls of my feet impatiently as I watched Nancy go to her desk and retrieve two envelopes (no direct deposit in those days), handing one to Sasha and then, finally, the other to me. I could hardly wait to rip it open, but Sasha was hovering a little too close for comfort (trying to sneak a peek, no doubt), so I decided to wait until my shift was over and I was safely in my car. The day dragged on and on, but finally it was over and I made a beeline for the parking lot. I tore open the envelope and eagerly looked at the check in my hand. My heart sank. There seemed to be something wrong with it, some numbers were missing. Panic began to creep in, but then I took a deep breath and told myself to relax. Payroll had obviously made a mistake, I would just show it to my dad and he would help me figure out what to do to get it corrected. No big deal.

        When my dad got home from work that night, I immediately accosted him about the check. He sat down with me and explained that I was working a minimum wage job and that taxes and social security were taken out of what I earn and that without a college education blah, blah, blah (I pretty much tuned him out after I realized that he was saying the amount on the check was correct).  I couldn’t sleep that night. Peanuts, I was working for peanuts. My lower back ached from bending to stock shoes on the bottom shelf and my feet had blisters from all the constant standing (and yeah, probably from wearing heels and chunky sandals everyday), and I was doing it all for hardly nothing, not even enough to purchase a new purse or a good pair of shoes. At this rate, I would be thirty before I could afford my own apartment. And that was (shudder) old.

       I dragged myself to work the next day, and scanned away, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore (not that it had ever been all that invested before, but the promise of a big payoff had at least kept me somewhat motivated). Let’s face it, I wasn’t a shoe sales associate, or even a full fledged associate. No, I was just a stock girl. And not even a very good stock girl. This realization was depressing, to say the least.

     My career at Wal-Mart lasted another two months (yes, I hung in there for a while, if only to appease my parents). Turns out that at a job they actually expect you to work… a lot. And they only want to pay you a little, no matter how fabulous you are. Yep, my job at Wal-Mart gave me my first glimpse of what the real world is really like, and it kind of sucked. Though there would be many more to come, my experience at Wal-Mart gave me my first cold dose of reality and nudged me that much closer toward adulthood.

      When I pulled this story from the archives and re-read it, I realized that there are things I envy about my eighteen year old self, but then there are things I don’t. Of course I envy her innocence and naivety. She had not yet had her heart broken and had yet to experience the pain of real loss. She was blissfully unaware that the dad she adored (and who adored her in return) would only live another nine years and that her mother (who was always there for her) would follow him to Heaven only two short years later. She didn’t have to deal with the everyday stress of adult life: a mortgage to pay, kids to raise, working hard to further a career. But she also had yet to meet her soulmate and had never known the joy that comes with loving someone more than you love yourself. She hadn’t yet met the two children who would show her that she is capable of so much more than she ever dreamed she would be. Life is a constant journey, with many twists and turns, and a large amount of teachable moments. This experience happened near the beginning of my journey, now I am approaching the middle of the journey and look forward to finding out what the second half has in store for me.

18 year old me on Halloween.

18 year old me on Halloween.

My parents. I miss them everyday. They taught me by example with their 33 year marriage.

My parents. I miss them everyday. They taught me by example with their 33 year marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was your coming of age moment? Share it in the comments below, or if you’ve blogged about it leave the link, I would love to read it!

Everything Is Awesome (The Lego Movie Theme Song To My Life)

   You know that super catchy tune that the Lego people love in The Lego Movie? (If for some crazy, inexplicable, indecipherable reason you haven’t seen the movie yet, and therefore don’t know of this mind infiltrating song, you can listen to it here.) Well, in the months since I’ve seen the movie, that song has begun playing in my head every time anything even remotely good happens:

   The Girl let me pick out her clothes for her this morning without a fight? “Everything is awesooome…

   The dog didn’t pee on the rug today? …everything’s cooooolllll…

   My husband actually put the empty tea pitcher in the sink, instead of back in the fridge? …when you’re part of a teeeaaaammm…

   The Boy aimed all of his wee wee into the potty with minimal backsplash? …everything is awesoooome…

   I received a $1.78 refund check from my former cable company in the mail today and I’m going to use it to splurge on that Three Musketeers bar (and probably a Twix) that has been beckoning to me from the vending machine at work? …when you’re living on a dreee-aaaa-mmm!!!”

      Every time I achieve some new victory, small as it may be, I find myself belting out that song in my head (and yeah, sometimes out loud) in celebration. In life we tend to put our focus on the big things: making more money, getting the promotion (so we can make more money), buying a house, saving for the kids’ college fund, building up for retirement… but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really the everyday little victories that make life pretty darn, well… awesome.

Seriously, watch it!

Seriously, watch it!

  P.S. When I pick my kids up at the end of the day and they scream “Mmmooooommmmyyyy!!!” and throw themselves into my arms? Well, it doesn’t get much more awesome than that.

emmet