Yeah, I do

Do you remember eleven years ago, this month? We were leaving another game night at Nathan and Andrea’s house.  We walked outside together, but before we said good-bye you asked me a question.

Do you want to get lunch after church tomorrow?

“Yeah, I do” I answered, trying to play it cool.  “that would be great”

Okay, then see ya tomorrow.  And you got into your Chevy Lumina and I got into my Pontiac Sunfire.

At Chili’s I got the chicken crispers and we talked about our families and March Madness and when lunch was over I still didn’t know a lot about you, except that you were kind and smart and really tall which of course was a must-have on my list.  But I knew, from a whisper in my heart, that I was going to marry you. 

One of our next dates, you took me swing dancing but beforehand, in my crammed grad student office, Carolina sugar scrubbed my hands so they’d be soft in yours as we jitter bugged around the Student Union.  A year and a half later, after the dinner dates and movie dates and the first kiss and long walks and some hard conversations and meeting each others’ parents and falling in love, your dad asked me an important question, in front of God and our family and friends.

Kirsten, will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage?  Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?

Yes, I will.  I answered.

I remember the first year of our marriage so vividly. The long hikes in the mountains and long games of Trivial Pursuit at The Wine Loft, a bottle of Elk Cove Pinot Gris always on our table.  Peaceful evenings in our little cabin, under the Flagstaff stars.  I loved popping into your office on campus and driving out to Chad and Joy’s house on Monday nights.  I loved cold mornings with you headed into town, sometimes we’d have to pull over again to scrape more ice off the windshield, both of us clutching our travel mugs and listening to Morning Edition.

Then, a move to Tucson that was scary for me, but we were in it together.  Finding friends, finding a church, finding a job, finding out we were pregnant only to lose that baby.  Finding out we were pregnant again a few months later only to lose that one too.  You loved me so well and endured the violent waves of my emotions with me, never minimizing or rushing or shaming.  I know you weren’t sure what to do with me at times, but you did exactly what I needed; you stayed by my side. 

Then this daughter of ours arrived on the scene, and new parts of our hearts were stirred. In under two years we had two babies.  It changed the way I loved, it changed the way I saw you, it changed the ways I needed you.  A blur of diapers and sippy cups and sleepless nights and temper tantrums – some by the kids and some by me -and for awhile there I knew we were just hanging on by a thread.  A very, very thin thread.  But you’d hand me my ipod and my running shoes and I’d mouth “thank you” as I headed out the door to find some peace and sanity on the pavement.

And we laughed a lot and yelled a bit, and tried to capture first steps and first words and first days of school and we bought a house and lost patience with one another over plumbing problems and money problems and life problems.  But always there would be a bottle of wine to linger over, or one extra cup of coffee in the morning, and while the kids ran around us like little monkeys we would talk about God and life and hurts and hopes.  Our song would come on the radio while cooking dinner and right then and there we swayed back and forth in each others’ arms.  Sometimes we couldn’t finish our dance because the oven timer would go off or our daughter would be tugging at your shirt wanting her turn with you.

And now we are busy and have oceans of thoughts and stresses and feelings keeping us like silos under the same roof, and days will go by where even though we are exchanging schedule information and jars of peanut butter for jars of jam – I don’t see you.

Eleven years later, after those chicken crispers at Chili’s, it’s true that there is more grit to us, more communicated when our eyes meet, and definitely more at stake than a first date could ever hold.  But then again, it’s still just us.

This morning you were headed out the door, but before we said good-bye you asked me a question.

Do you want to get lunch together this week?”

“Yeah, I do” I answered, trying to play it cool.  “That would be great”

 

Simpler Times

The tent lay in a pile of confusing mesh-y fabric on the ground in front of us, along with a handful of poles and some metal stakes.  It had been a little over a decade since Jon had gone camping and much longer than that for me, and actually when I went camping as a girl I am pretty sure I stood around in my cut-off jean shorts and over-sized t-shirt while my mom and dad actually did all the work setting up camp.

“Okay, a tent is not rocket science, we can do this!”  we both agreed.

And we did, and it didn’t take very long at all. Later that evening as we were making dinner we marveled at the bounty before us.  Fish, a can of corn, and some dinner rolls.

“What a magnificent feast!” we proclaimed as we delighted in this delicious meal and gushed over the gourmet seasonings of salt and pepper and brushed flies off our fish and scooped more canned corn out of the pot with a plastic teaspoon.

We laughed and talked as we washed our dishes and cleaned up our dinner.

“I like talking to you.”  I thought.

Afterward, we pulled up our camp chairs to face the aspen forest that lined our campsite and sipped our Simpler Times beer from the can ($3.99 for a six-pack from Trader Joe’s, if you’re curious about where to find such a classy beverage) and talked about the kids and God and life as the sun set behind the mountains.

“We are so well suited for each other” I said silently to myself.

And it’s true.  We have always been in strong agreement on our political, theological and parenting views and although how we interpret and express them can differ (classic story, INTP marries INFJ), I have always known I have a true partner in Jon.

Jon and Kirsten.  Mountains and trees.  Canned corn and Simpler Times.

Why didn’t we fight while putting up the tent?  He didn’t annoy me.  I didn’t frustrate him.  We didn’t rush.  We just worked, together.  We accomplished, together.  

Why didn’t I mumble my over-used “sorry this isn’t anything special” apology over an under-seasoned meal of fish and canned vegetables?

 Why do I feel so content?

Why is it so easy to forget how much I love this man?

The easy answer is because it was just us.  No kids hitting each other while we are trying to clean up after dinner.  No students’ spiritual lives dependent upon whether we could put up our tent effectively (or not).  No busy bedtime routine moving us along.  No TV shows or blogs or podcasts calling our attentions away from each other.  The rocks and trees and wildflowers in our mountain meadow didn’t require that we attend to them in any way.

It was just us.

I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come

Come away with me…

Isn’t that the song we first danced to on our wedding day?  

So all I ask is for you
To come away with me in the night
Come away with me

Our seven year anniversary is just about here, and for such a relatively short time to be married, and for such a happy, like-minded, non-confrontational, Jesus-loving couple; baggage and scars and fatigue and fighting and hurting and burdens and failure have played their parts well.

“And I have missed you.” I think.

Come away with me and we’ll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you

I Got You

Dear Jon

These last five years of marriage have been such a blessing to me. You have given me so much. Because of you and our life together…

I have a partner in life – some one who does the every day, nitty-gritty with me. Paying bills, doing dishes, changing diapers, running errands, eating meals. Its nice to not do these things alone!

I have real-life romance. Thank you for still pursuing me in the same way you pursued me when we first began dating. Thank you for valuing our time together, our relationship and our marriage.

I have two beautiful children. You have not only give me Evangeline and Zachary, but all the ways you love our little ones are really gifts to me, too. I couldn’t wish for a better father for the two little people I love more than life itself. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the kind of dad you are.

I have someone to lead me. I know I can be a feisty, stubborn, opinionated, sassy and difficult wife at times! Thank you for being so wise, Godly and strong in directing our family. I respect you so much.

I have someone to fight for me, someone to care for me, someone to laugh with me, someone to mourn with me, someone to work with me, someone to parent with me, someone to dance with me and someone to follow Jesus alongside me.

I have all of these things and so much more, all because I have you.

I love you and happy five year anniversary!

To celebrate Jon and I are going to enjoy a dinner (just the two of us!) at California Pizza Kitchen. We’re thankful for children who are pretty good at going to bed and friends who will hold down the fort for us while we go out.

Views

You would think that living together and working together would mean that we would actually experience lots of quality time together.

You would think that two laid-back second children wouldn’t be such stressed-out workaholics!

Well, you’d be wrong!

With our crazy schedules and baby number 2 on the way we both agreed we NEEDED some time to ourselves before May – because goodness knows when this little bundle of joy arrives things aren’t going to get any easier!

So we embarked on a journey to Huntington Beach, California – leaving our daughter behind with Grandma Cindy – ready for a few days of R&R, ocean views and quality time together.

It was AMAZING!

We arrived on Sunday night, after an 8 hour drive (made better by books on tape and no toddler in the backseat!) and after checking into our beautiful hotel room that had this view:

And was surrounded by these poppies, which reminded me of my mother-in-law:

We took the ten minute walk up the beach to downtown Huntington Beach for some pizza and watched this sunset:

At this point I was deliberately taking deep breaths, having to put some effort into unwinding. But, it didn’t take long! The next day was sooooo relaxing. At first I felt bad that we hadn’t really planned anything to do while in the L.A. area (Jon and I are, as a couple, indecisive and non-planners), but then I realized that EVERY SINGLE DAY of my life I have to get up and go non-stop for at least 12 hours, always having something that I need to do.

So we took our time getting ready, had a yummy breakfast and then spent the rest of the day getting lost in the act of doing nothing, the novels we brought along, hotel luxuries, and of course each other.

This was my view in the morning at the pool:

And then at lunch (enjoying fish tacos. yummy)

and later in the afternoon:

By evening we were so exhausted from our hard day’s work of relaxing that we filled up on free hor dourves so we wouldn’t have to leave the hotel, and then went to the hotel lounge for drinks and dessert. I was very excited to see that they had a non-alcoholic wine selection, so even thought it was $7/glass I went for it! Let me tell you what non-alcoholic wine is. Grape juice. Expensive grape juice, actually. We then hung out and watched The Bachelor (don’t judge) and went to bed early!

The following day was more of the same. Sleeping in. Local brewery for lunch. Afternoon naps. And then some more of this:

We ended our last evening there by going out for Sushi (well, Jon got sushi. I don’t eat sushi even when I”m not pregnant, so I got cooked shrimp). I stared at my good lookin’ fellow all night, watching him enjoy his uncooked sea creature. This is the view our waitress had:

After dinner we headed back to the beach for a fire and s’mores. This was Jon’s view:

The next morning I woke up at 6am, unable to go back to sleep as the stresses of ‘real life’ had invaded my vacation brain and I was thinking about logistics of driving home, up-coming doctors appointments, writing report cards and ministry stuff. A trip to the jacuzzi (I couldn’t get all the way in, so I dangled my legs while Jon got the full effect) and final walk on the beach to watch the waves helped with that, though!

All in all, it was divine. I felt so well rested. Jon and I managed not to talk about work or money or even parenting very much at all.

The view that the citizens and tourists of Huntington Beach had of us all week was something like this:

The view of a couple very much in love after almost five years of marriage and 1 1/2 kids. A couple who seemed to be blissfully happy to simply walk hand in hand along the beach, take naps together, laugh, flirt, and talk about all things silly and serious with one another.

When we returned, we had the most beautiful view ever. One even more breath taking than the ocean.

Thanks to Grandma for watching E, for my dad who blessed us with free hotel nights (and so much more!), and for Paulo Freire Freedom School and the University of Arizona for giving us Spring Break!

Evangeline

About 18 months after starting this blog and dreaming of the day that I would hold a baby in my arms is finally here! So much praying and waiting and hoping and frustration and excitement and ups and downs. And she is here, and I love her more and more every day, sometimes I think I might burst from how much I love her!

I have had many profound experiences and emotions in just the few days since Evangeline came into the world but I guess I am just too tired to put them into words here! I’ll say that it is weird knowing and learning so much about what it will be like to have a baby – but experiencing those things is a completely different story!

For example I knew that I would be so tired and not get a lot of sleep at night – but now I am actually living it. I understood that I would feel so much love for her, but now I am experiencing it every moment. I read about how to change diapers and breastfeed but now it is what I spend the majority of my day doing. People told me everything else in my life would sort of fade into the background, and as much as I didn’t believe them I now cannot think of anything nearly as important as holding Evangeline in my arms.

So here are some quick pics and stats because I know that is really what you care about! We have been taking a lot of them (mostly of her sleeping because that is what she does the most of, and because she looks so so cute asleep) but am working on actually uploading them to my computer.

Coming home from the hospital – what an overhelming trip that was!

Sleeping on the boppy pillow after being fed

Sleep in her bassinet in our room – so adorable and tiny!

Evangeline Meghan gained back 5 ounces since leaving the hospital (born at 8lb 6oz, down to 7lb 9 oz, back up to 7lb 14 oz as of yesterday). We have seen the pediatrician and he says she is in excellent health! Many friends have been by to see her and to help us with meals and we are so grateful for that as feeding ourselves would look a lot like Hungry Howie’s Pizza if it weren’t for them! Jon’s parents just left and my parents are due to arrive soon and we are so grateful for their help! (I remember thinking that I didn’t want any family here for awhile after she was born because I wanted it to just be Jon and I, and for us to be independent – how stupid! We need family during this transition and have been blessed to have our parents travel from far away to be here with us).