Thursday, June 30, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Kinder Eggs

When we lived in Sweden, sometimes we would buy these special little candy treats for our boys called Kinder Eggs.

Kinder eggs are part candy and part toy. In one part of the egg, you can eat a creamy milk chocolate candy. And the other part contains a tiny toy. And it is an actual toy--not like the lame tattoos one now finds in Cracker Jacks.

My children were always so excited to receive a Kinder egg because they were such a lovely surprise and treat.

Sadly,  you cannot buy them in the United States because of some silly regulations.

If you ever go abroad, try and find a Kinder egg and enjoy the surprise!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Homeland

For so long, pieces of my heart have been scattered around and I have felt divided and rootless. Our first few years in New York stripped us bare and laid out flaws and strengths apparent for all to see. At times, living in NY felt like a prison I couldn't escape. Where Sweden had adventure and interest around every corner, NY presented relentless and prosaic challenges. Going back to the homeland, to the high, cold desert plains and mountains of Wyoming felt like an escape and respite from the beat and humidity that seemed to represent all the things I couldn't overcome.

Then, things changed. Riyadh reset my perspective and gave us the freedom to overcome the restrictions we fought against. Keys to our new home that came with mortgage payments and property taxes meant new opportunities and settling down.

Now my trips to the homeland aren't so much an escape as they are a chance for my children to build relationships with extended family. We are the outliers-the exotic family far away from everyone.

I am excited but I am not running there to escape. I leave from a place of contentment. Home, home in NY, calls to me. My bedroom with its airy, white, and cool curtains and comfortable bed is a refuge. Each room in my home serves its purpose in a comfortable manner that reflects the needs of our family.

My garden and yard intrigue me with all their surprises. Walking around my home always yields secret delights. I eagerly anticipate the blooming of different shrubs and plants, each one bringing beauty to the landscape.

We are settled with friends and responsibilities. People depend on us... And we depend on them.

We have summer traditions we eagerly await: lazy days swimming at the lake, watching a double feature until the early hours of the morning at a drive-in movie theater,   exploring the Dutchess county fair, eating outside on the deck under the canopy, swimming lessons, and trips up north to the Adirondacks.

The more pleasures and delights I discover, the harder it is to leave. The pull for the homeland becomes more about the people than the place. I feel more and more rooted to a new home, connected to the place, as much as the people.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Things I Love About New York

I can't believe that July 1st marks seven years of living in New York. This makes New York the one place I have lived longer than any other since I got married. I have to admit, I didn't immediately bond with New York when we moved here. I experienced major culture shock that first year and I experienced some of my hardest challenges here. However, I have grown to love New York and proudly call myself a New Yorker.

In no particular order, here are some things I love about New York.

  • You can't turn around without hitting an historical spot from the colonial period or Revolutionary War. I am such a huge fan of history--especially the colonial period, so this is a major treat for me.
  • There are so many opportunities to see plays and performances. Being so close to NYC, even local productions are pretty darn amazing.
  • New York has the best pizza around.

  • New York Delis are amazing. I never knew about sausages and peppers until I moved to New York. One of the best reuben sandwiches I have ever eaten is at a little deli at a gas station by the Appalachian Trail. Aweseome.
  • I live in a freaking forest.

  • I get to live in the country with lots of wildlife around but the city is just an hour away so I can soak up all the culture my heart could ever desire.

  • We live close to some of the best museums in the world. I love museums so this makes me extra happy.

  • There are so many lakes and beaches around. During the summer I hang out by the water with my feet in the sand to my heart's content.

  • Apple picking in the fall. I love walking around orchards in the fall and picking apples. The fresh apples taste amazing.

  • The Adirondacks are gorgeous and a wonderful place for a getaway.

  • I have a place here in New York with friends and a community. So glad to be here.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Mothering Monday: Family Information Binders

As a parent, I am in charge of all our family's documentation parents. Because we have lived in three different countries and my children have attended 10 different schools, I have found that keeping my records well-organized and accessible has been imperative. Even if you don't move a lot or travel out of the country, keeping track of important documents and information about your family is essential. I have an extremely easy yet effective system that costs little, but really pays off.

Each family member is assigned a one-inch binder. Because my kids have favorite colors, I found binders in those colors. I labeled the edge and front of the binder with each person's name.

I have four categories in each binder: identification papers, church documents, health, and school.

The first category is identification papers.

I store the following documents in this category:

  • birth certificate
  • social security card
  • identify documents for any countries we have resided in
  • marriage certificate (for my husband and I)
  • any other document that provides identification

The second category is church documents. 

I store the following documents in this category:
  • blessing certificate
  • baptism certificate
  • priesthood ordinations
  • primary graduation
  • any awards earned

The third category is health. 

I store the following documents in the this category:
  • yearly physicals
  • current immunizations
  • test results from x-rays, MRIs,etc. 

The fourth category is school.

I store the following documents in this category:
  • college transcripts
  • scholarship letters
  • college acceptance letters
  • diplomas
  • moving up certificates
  • final report card from each year
  • transcripts from any school attended
  • IEP or 504 Plan documents
The beauty of this system is that it is so easy to adapt to any family's situation. You can remove or add categories based on your needs. These binders have proven to be invaluable for our family through our moves. I can't tell you how many times I have needed to provide documents at a moment's notice. Because my children have collectively attended 10 different schools in the past 11 years, it has been helpful to be able to hand over a complete transcript of their education. 

Some of you may wonder if it is secure to maintain these documents in one visible location. Many experts suggest keeping all important documents in a safety deposit box at a bank. I can understand the logic behind that, but our circumstances have never allowed us that luxury. We have often needed certified original copies of documents, so I simply keep them together in the binder. If you are worried about security but want to adopt this system, I would suggest that you copy all the originals and store them in a safe locations, such as a safety deposit box, and then organize the copies into binders as I have done here. I also have scanned copies on my computer so I can access them digitally, if needed. 

When my children are fully independent, I will pass off their binder to them. Already my oldest son has used his a lot when he took his driver's test, signing up for college courses, taking ACT and SAT exams, opened a bank account, etc. He knows where to find his important information and can easily fill out forms himself now, using the contents of his binder. 

How do you store your family's information? Did you find this helpful? 


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Spiritual Sunday: Sow to Yourselves in Righteousness

I read the book of Hosea a few months ago. It completely stopped me in my tracks, with the prophet, Hosea's compelling pleas to Israel and Judah. Verse 12 in chapter 10 has become my new favorite scripture.

Sow to yourselves
in righteousness,
Reap in mercy.
Break up
your fallow ground;
For it is time
to Seek the Lord.
till He come
and rain Righteousness
upon you.

I love the imagery in this verse. I love the idea of planting seeds of faith and righteousness in my life. I love the idea of reaping in mercy and kindness to others. I love the idea of breaking of the ground in my heart and preparing it for the rain of righteousness from the Lord to come down upon me.

I asked my friend, an artist, RUOILED, to create a picture for me of this verse. And this is what she made.

Do you have a favorite scripture that has really touched you? Do you do Bible journaling?


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Scrapbook Saturday: Plan on It: Finishing Your Project Albums

This post is part six of my series about overcoming creativity killers. You can read about creative roadblocksstories to tellusing a kitcreative energy, and organizing supplies all on my blog.

One thing I have found that kills creativity, especially when working on a theme or vacation album is not knowing where to start. In this case, I think that a little pre-planning goes a long way. 

The steps I find helpful to finishing a project in a timely matter are as follows: 

  1.  Set the intention or goal. 
  2. Break down the steps into manageable pieces. 
  3. Set time aside regularly to work on the project. 
It seems pretty simple, but I know it can sometimes feel overwhelming. To illustrate, here is how I finished a two-volume vacation album about a family trip in a few months.

In 2012, our family spent a week in Egypt exploring the ancient sites. 

It was a landmark trip that I had always dreamed of taking. I took so many pictures and collected memorabilia along the way. Right after the trip, I did the following:

  • Edited, sorted, and organized the digital photos
  • Wrote lists of the things we saw and did
  • Made a list of funny stories I wanted to tell
  • Wrote a few blog entries about the trip
  • Sorted the photos I wanted to print in a separate folder
  • Uploaded them to my favorite printing site
  • Printed the pictures.
  • Sorted the pictures and memorabilia into categories and stories.
  • Put the pictures and memorabilia into page protectors in the order I wanted them to appear in the album.
  • Found a kit collection of papers and embellishments to use for the album. I went with a Jillibeen soup collection because the papers reminded me of patterns and colors I saw in Egypt.

Then I let the project marinate for awhile. To be honest, I did nothing for three years. A year after the trip, we were super busy enjoying and exploring Saudi Arabia. Then we moved back to New York, bought a home, and had our sixth baby. Life was too busy for me to take on a project that size at the time. But I wasn't worried, because I had done some prep work already.This year, it was time to get serious about finishing the album. 

With everything in place, I began my project. Each day, I would pull out my binder of pictures and make one page. I didn't focus on the big picture or worry about how many pages I had to make because I had already done the work

Halfway through my project, I got really bored. I had finished the portion of our trip that was in Cairo and was about to work on pictures about Luxor. I was tired of the papers I was using and burnt out on making layouts. As luck would have it, I stopped at A.C. Moore and discovered there were some discounted Project Life albums and core kits. I bought two albums and a core kit that coordinated, more or less, with the papers I had used on the first half. I decided that I would split the album into two parts, so that it wouldn't jar the viewer with a different style of scrapbooking. I opted to do pocket pages for the rest of the trip. 
I also discovered a hidden stash of memorabilia that included postcards I purchased at the Valley of Kings. Cameras are not allowed in the tombs or even in the valley, so I bought postcards and a book to try and remember the amazing colors and scenes we saw in the tombs. I trimmed the postcards just a smidge and then loaded them up in the pocket pages. The second album was astoundingly easy and fast to complete.  

Because I used two different types of papers to complete the album, I did a few things to maintain a cohesive feel.

  • I broke down the project into two albums covering two different places we saw. The first album covered our visit in Cairo. The second album covered our visit to Luxor. 
  • I used a similar color scheme. Both collections included blues, oranges, reds, yellows, greens, and blacks. The Core kit contained cards that had similar patterns on a smaller scale. 
  • I alternated using black or white for backgrounds in both volumes. 
  • I used a variety of page sizes in both albums.
  • The first page of the first volume coordinates with the final page in the second album. 
  • The last page in volume 1 says, "Goodbye Cairo". The first page in the volume 2 says, "Hello Luxor".
  • I included ephemera throughout both albums. 
  • I used matching Project Life albums for both volumes. They are a matched set and signals to the reader they should be taken out together to look at.
  • I used the same letter stickers in both albums. 
I am so proud of my albums because are completed. They are easy to access and my family can enjoy looking at them to remember our wonderful adventure. 


Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Favorites: Favorite Fiction Writers

I haven't written about books in a long time. I have several authors I enjoy reading. Here are a few that I would recommend.

Kate Morton crafts complex books which weave the past and present together in interesting and intriguing ways. If you are looking for mystery, family history, and the ways family secrets cause complex family challenges, then Kate's books are for you.

Anne Perry is probably the best historical crime fiction author I have ever encountered. She has the deepest, most intimate knowledge of human character that I have ever read in fiction. She has a few different series. Her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries are set in late Victorian London and feature a secret organization of people who undermine the government. The Monk series is set in London right after the Crimean War. I like this series best because Hester is a dynamic, fiercely independent nurse trying to make her way in a world which has very different standards for women. Monk is a man who has lost his past after getting hit over the head. Coming face to face with all his flaws, arrogance, and conceit and seeking to change is humbling. Anne Perry's five book series about World War I are the best fiction novels I have ever read about the war. A warning though, Perry deals with the darkest aspects of human nature and sometimes the novels are very violent--though never gratuitous.

L.M. Montgomery is a master at capturing the humorous and dark sides of ordinary rural people. Her breadth of work is wonderful. Her books are for the young and old alike. I find I never get tired of her stories and can read and reread them dozens of times. Once you get through the Anne and Emily series, there are other magical stories to discover. My favorite is The Blue Castle which hilarious and tender.

Who are your favorite authors? What books to you return to again and again?


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Throwback Thursday: That Time I Lived in Saudi Arabia

(Sorry about the brevity of the more recent blog posts. I'm actually trying to get ready for a trip and am pre-writing posts.)

For Throwback Thursday, I was thinking about the eighteen months my family  lived in Saudi Arabia. People are always intrigued when I tell them that I lived in Riyadh. I kept a great blog, In a Maze of Beige about our experiences.

We really enjoyed our time there. I would go back if we ever got a chance. Here is a piece I wrote about the things I liked about Saudi Arabia.

Have you ever lived in an unusual place that people wondered if you could actually enjoy? What was it like? What did you like about it?


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Feeling Defeated By the Gypsy Moth Caterpillars

Oaks, maples, and pine trees encircle my home. In the summer, the shade from their leaves brings a welcome coolness to our yard from the heat and humidity. In the winter, the intricate shapes and designs of the bare leaves give me much to ponder as I survey the changed landscape.

In the spring, little caterpillars hatched out of egg clusters and began to make their way up the oak trees. Hundreds of thousands of gypsy moth caterpillars crunching through the leaves and pooping sound like rain dropping on leaves. My driveway is a disaster. When it rains, the water mixes with the poop and leaves to create the most disgusting concoction on my driveway and car. You have no idea how frustrating, annoying, and gross this is.

I spend at least an hour everyday cleaning off my driveway so we can walk on it to get to the cars. My tree branches are sparsely covered. Caterpillars almost cover the bark so you can't tell where the caterpillars end and the bark begins.

Fighting this pests is a really difficult challenge. I don't want to damage my trees or hurt any potential wildlife. At the moment, we have put little screw with a pesticide that only kills the caterpillars through the leaves. I also wrapped the trunks of several trees with duct tape. The caterpillars won't go on the sticky side so they are stuck.

I feel frustrated and thwarted by this little pest. I know they are just doing what they were born to do--eat, turn into moths, mate, and lay eggs. It's their destiny. Treating them with a professional tree service is way out of our budget, so we are trying to do the best we can with our available resources.

I did get a little burst of hope though from this news article from Connecticut that fungus has been killed the caterpillars. I can only hope the fungus will spread to our trees.

Have you ever dealt with a gypsy moth infestation? What did you do? Did you feel frustrated by it too?


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Rootless

Did you know that I was on a podcast episode for the scrapbooking podcast, The Paperclipping Roundtable in September 2013? Several months earlier I had contacted the host with an idea about the often transitory life of an expat family and how scrapbooking can be a tool to help process the challenges and keep one's family connected to roots.

Marie-Pierre Capistran was also on the show and had amazing things to contribute.

You can listen to Rootless here.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Mothering Monday: To My 14-year Old Son

Dear son,

This is your last year of middle school and you are about to go into high school. Yes, high school and it is kind of freaking me out. This year has been a calm one for me and you because I had stepped back and just let you direct your schooling. It was a big risk to take because there was a huge possibility you would fail. But somehow you managed to find a balance that works for you. There are many ways in which I think you could much better--such as getting straight As, but you are the one driving your success, not me. And compared to where you have been, you have made huge progress.

  • You are still gregarious and interesting. You laugh a lot and have a joy bubble. Your joy bubble may not be as big as it once was as a preschooler, but it is still there.

  • Our relationship is so much better and we are a lot happier when we spend time together.

  •  You love working on your computer. You still crave knowledge about interesting subjects. When it is something you like, you really do put time into it.You love animals and are intensely curious how they work.

  •  You cook more and do quite a bit in the kitchen. It still takes time for you to finish chores, but you are getting so much better.

  • You did wrestling and track and field. I am proud of you for the effort you put into training and competing. I also loved that at your meets, you always took time to talk to me and your siblings. I love that about you. 

  • You have the most EPIC hair of any our family. It is my hair, which we both inherited from your great-grandpa Christler. You like it long so it keeps your head warm. You are still always cold. Even in the summer you will wear a ratty yellow hoodie. 

  • In many ways, you are still very childlike and have a pure, unfettered joy I love to watch.

  •  Even though you are musical, getting you to practice is akin to pulling teeth, painful and hard. So this year you did art. I love the art you are creating. It is usually centered on nature, which you love. Also, you created a cool computer program for an art piece about slot machines. I found you at your desk a couple days later studying the probabilities of the different combinations. On your own, you came up with some formulas and data. 

I think this year was a great one for you. I'm so excited for you next year and hope that it proves to be an even better year.




A Personal Look at Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Illness

Honestly, I am a little scared to write this post because it is so personal, but today my heart felt like I need to write it. Over the past few weeks, friends, mostly on FB, have expressed feelings of depression, sadness, worthlessness, anxiety, and hopelessness. I have responded to their thoughts with a suggestion that they seek some type of help like therapy. I don't know if they found my suggestion helpful or insulting, but I would like to share a story from my life so they can understand why I made the suggestion.

Several years ago, after moving to New York from Sweden, I was in a funk. It started out as a little funk brought on by stress and the shock of moving to a new culture. I felt overwhelmed by trying to help my kids adapt to life in a new country, adjust to the high cost of living, and learning a new culture. The list of things I had to do as a mother was overwhelming and it included finding a new endocrinologist to manage my Hashimotos Thyroid Disease, which I neglected to do.

My little funk deepened into a deep dark depression as the summer hit. Our house wasn't air-conditioned and we were unbearably hot. Mentally, I felt horrible. I barely managed to get out of bed each morning. My parenting was pretty bad too.

I was scared, isolated (by my own fault), and felt completely worthless and hopeless. This was a complete far cry from my confident, happy, trusting, and positive self that I left behind in Sweden. It was so bad that I felt my children and husband would be better off without me. I never told anyone about my feelings. I didn't share what I was experiencing with my husband, a close friend, my parents or sisters, or anyone. People may have suspected that I was having a hard time, but I put on my pretend face and tried to white-knuckle my way through my depression.

One day a thought penetrated through the haze that I should find an endocrinologist and go back on my medicine. By this time, I had gone over eight or nine months without taking medication. It was impossibly difficult for me to find a doctor, book an appointment, and then meet with the doctor. In the examining room, the doctor came in and I burst into tears. Without hesitation, he prescribed medication and insisted that I return in six weeks.

With the help of the thyroid medication, my depression began to lift and my heart and mind slowly returned to normal. To this day, I carry a deep regret that I did not reach out for help either from family, friends, or a doctor. My suffering was needless and could have been prevented if I had sought help.

A couple years later, a close friend had a very close call with suicide, but was saved in time. Her situation rocked my world and I determined never to put myself back in the situation I was in years earlier. My husband's work provided a number of free counseling sessions with a licensed therapist and I took advantage of them. I wanted to learn skills and get tools for coping with life's challenges. Women in my ward selflessly babysat my baby for free so I could go to therapy.

Going to a doctor and later, a therapist, really helped me. In fact, I would go again if I started to feel bad or was experiencing hard challenges I couldn't cope with.

Here is what I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, to all my friends who are trying to white-knuckle their way through depression, anxiety, or mental illness:

1) You are not alone. You are worthy, important, and valuable. Your life has meaning.

2) Please, please, please, please, please GO GET HELP. Tell a friend, family member, clergy member that you need help. Some churches will help their members get counseling services for free or a reduced fee. Check your health insurance to see if it covers some kind of counseling sessions. There are even online services you can call.

3) If you can't afford getting professional care, try and find a trusted friend or family member who is supportive and loving to you that would be willing to compassionately listen.

4) Don't be afraid to use medication if it is suggested. I'm not suggesting that you blindly take medication without assessing the risks. I am suggesting that you carefully consider it. I take two different medications to treat my lupus and thyroid everyday and will for the rest of my life. I do this so that I remain healthy to live my life fully and happily. Why would a person willingly take medication to maintain their physical health and not take medication to maintain their emotional health? It boggles my mind. It is not bad to take medication to help your mental health. Some people may need to take it their whole lives, while others may take it just for a short period of time. Of course, not all medication will work, but there are treatment options available. Don't ignore your options, especially if they will help you.

5) Make sure you investigate other medical issues. Who knew that my thyroid gland could affect my mental state? I didn't but after my horrible experience, I know that I must take it to be healthy. Go to your doctor and get a full medical exam and run any tests that are needed. Tell your doctor your emotional struggles and ask them to check issues that can cause depression.

I really hopes this helps.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Spiritual Sunday: Father's Day

Happy Father's Day! I just wanted to take a few minutes to share words about the fathers who have made a difference in my life.

My dad is probably one of the most important people in my life. He has always been a loving dad and I could always count on him to give me hugs, encourage me, and build up my self-esteem. He was my first example of how a man should love a woman and his children. I have held every man I've met to that standard, and it is a high one. He ADORES my mother, so much in fact, that all my friends who know my parents have commented on it. My favorite times are talking with him while riding horses. We like to talk about horse racing, family history, the kids, and my mom. He is the best storyteller ever and can talk to just about anyone about almost anything.

I have been married to this man for 18 years. I have always known he would make a great father--I knew him when we were kids and teenagers. He has proven what an incredible dad he is over and over again. The night before our first child was born, I was scheduled to be induced. We went home and were supposed to rest for the big day. I was anxious and tried to sleep to physically prepare. This guy couldn't sleep all night because he was SO excited. He cried each time our babies were born. He loves being a father. He takes time to play with our kids. He teaches them how to do things, like building, or yard work, or repairing appliances. He always volunteers to do science demonstrations for our children's classes each year. He changes diapers, bathes babies, deals with disciplinary matters, and, best of all, managed all the driving lessons with our oldest. He's my hero. We wouldn't have the family we do without him.

Yes, that's my father-in-law, buried by his grandkids. This pretty much sums up everything about him. He is a loving, caring, and involved father. He enjoys playing with and teasing his grandchildren. I can always count on him. He is 100% service oriented and without fail, you can always find him helping someone--whether it be his kids. On one trip to NY, he spent the bulk of the trip fixing our cars, packing, and helping us move. He taught his boys how to be decent, honest, and good men. I'm so grateful for him and for the good that he brings to my life and my children's lives.

Happy Father's Day! Who inspires you?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Scrapbook Saturday: Organizing Scrap Supplies

This is the fifth piece in a series about overcoming creativity killers. You can read about creativity killers, story prompts, making kits, and creative energy by clicking on the links.

When your scrapping supplies are scattered and disorganized it can be totally overwhelming. Disorganization wastes precious time and drains creative energy leading to little productivity and a lot of frustration.

I'm not an expert at organization so I can't give you an hard and fast tips. I generally tailor my scrap organization to the space I have available. I think that organizing also depends on your personality and how you think and the process you go through to create.

Kits are an excellent way to store product as you group it together in a way that it gets used and seen.

I organize in a couple of different ways:

1) I organize by kit. Kits are stored together so I can flip through them when working on a project to find something that suits my story.

2) Sort by type. I store paper together. Cardstock goes in its own holder. Collection paper gets stored together so I can use it as it generally matches, taking out the guess work. I store scrap paper together in a box. Letter stickers, different types of embellishments, punches, washi tape, mist, etc. all get stored with like items. I know where everything is so I can quickly grab and craft.

I know there are a ton of blog posts and YouTube videos about this topic. What are your favorite posts or tips about organizing? Do you rely on help or you can you figure out a method on your own?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Favorites: Extreme Genes

Because I am an audio learner, I LOVE listening to podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts is Extreme Genes.

The podcast shares an interesting mix of news and tech tips for genealogists. My favorite portion of the podcast are the personal stories shared by fellow genealogists. I always feel excited to tackle my own family stories after listening to an episode.

This episode features a guest who met the last living Civil War Soldier when he was a boy in the 1950s.

Episode 137 features and interview with a guest whose slave ancestors were sold to save Georgetown University from financial ruin.

What genealogy podcasts do you listen to?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Squaws Along the Yukon

When I was a kid, my dad used to sing a silly song called, "Squaws Along the Yukon". It is funny and silly. I'm sure he loves it because his great-grandfather (Thomas Anderson) went to the Yukon during the gold rush after 1900 and died there. He and my grandpa were always fascinated with the gold rush and the Yukon. Our whole family can practically recite "The Cremation of Sam Magee". Anyhow, back to the song.

My dad said that when he was dating my mother, he starting singing that song, and she joined right in. She was the first woman he ever met that knew that song. The song is a part of my childhood and I still sometimes burst out singing the funny chorus.

And in case you don't know the poem, "The Cremation of Sam Magee", you should listen or read it.

Do you have family songs or poems that evoke funny or strong memories?


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Married Love

New, romantic love is idealized on TV, in movies and literature, and in popular culture. All too often, married love or mature love is seen as something kind of boring, which seems pretty shortsighted. I get it, the rush of hormones, butterflies and excitement when falling into love is intoxicating and can't be beat.

My husband and I have been married for 18 years and I still can't stop myself thinking about him constantly during the day. I feel so deeply in love and wonderfully happy. The feelings I have now have a depth and strength that I didn't experience or understand when we first fell in love.

For me, married love looks and feels like this:
  • My husband washes the dishes and mops the floor because he knows how I hate a yucky floor, even though he is tired and would like to sleep.
  • Curling up together in our bed after a long day outdoors with our kids and listening to the crickets chirp.
  • Crying tears of joy as we experience the birth of each of our children.
  • Listening to one another's complaints as we struggle with jobs we like or challenges that are hard.
  • Being a cheerleader to one another when a growth opportunity comes along.
  • Being so mad at each other you can hardly see straight, but still loving them and wanting to work it out.
  • Commiserating over the challenges of parenting.
  • Laughing over private jokes and silly stories.
  • Watching my husband sit with our daughter on our front porch eating ice cream after pushing her in the swing for a long time.
  • Sneaking in passionate kisses when the kids aren't looking-and even sometimes when they are.
  • Grieving together when tragedy strikes.
  • Holding each other tight and pressing forward when faced with difficult challenges.
  • Sending funny texts to one another during the day and saying how much we love and miss one another.
  • Meeting each other for lunch at his office. 
  • Making his favorite meal for his birthday dinner.

  •  Saying sorry and asking for forgiveness when you have wronged one another.
  • Extending forgiveness and grace to one another.
  • Feeling like you have been together forever and yet it was just yesterday when you fell in love.
  • Staying up late at night just to talk to each other. 
  • Disagreeing about politics but still listening to each other anyway.
  • Going away for a much needed night away and just enjoying one another's company.
  • Missing each other when we are apart and calling at crazy hours just to hear their voice.
  • Relying on one another completely. 
  • Really and truly being friends. 

I could go on forever but I'll stop here. Have you experienced this deepening and strengthening of love? If so, what does it look and feel like to you?


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Travel Tuesday: A Pivotal Moment

I grew up in the high mountains of Wyoming in a small, insular town. I was the third generation of my family to live there. My world expanded quite a bit when I went to university at BYU in Utah. When my husband and I made the decision to move to Sweden so he could go to grad school, my world was rocked and it has never been the same.

I went from being deeply rooted in place and family to being rootless in foreign country where I didn't fit in.

I traded life-long connections for newly forged friendships.

I traded the security of extended family to learning how rely completely upon my husband.

I traded comfortable opinions and experiences for being challenged with new ways of thinking.

I traded the consumerist culture of space and excess for a minimalist existence.

I traded skill and certainty with my own language to learning a new language and botching it frequently.

I traded being shy and holding back to pushing myself to explore and do new things.

I traded permanence for the transitory.

I traded guarding my heart carefully to breaking it wide open to learn to love new places and people.

I trade complacency for curiosity.

I traded being tied and rooted to a place to being rooted to my husband and children.

I traded the high desert mountains for the lowland plains and beaches.

I traded the brash newness of America for the history of Europe.

My heart and life changed so much that I feel like a stranger when I return to my hometown. I am okay with that because I feel like I gained far more than I lost.

Have you ever made a big change in your life? What happened?