& Then Comes Marriage

Last week, my husband and I celebrated 8 years of being married. The past 8 years have been full of growth, change, trials, and lots of yelling. Marriage is hands down the hardest thing I have ever committed to. Every day I wake up and choose my husband and choose to love him. I choose to believe the best in him and give him the benefit of the doubt. I choose to believe that he loves me and has good intentions. I have no doubt in my mind that my husband loves me. People have even commented to me how much my husband loves me, as if they don’t want me to forget. Truth be told, I used to. I used to have a very dark and twisted view of love. I didn’t believe it existed. I thought love was for weak people and I was not weak. On our first date, I told him that I don’t believe in marriage. I wasn’t going to get married. Oh, and kids? That was off the table. If he chose to still date me, he was going in with that knowledge. 

Now, obviously that all changed. But, it wasn’t like I woke up one morning and was suddenly gunning to get to an altar. I also didn’t wake up and suddenly want to have kids. My marriage and being a mother are results of a lot of growth in me. Every day when I wake up and choose my husband, he wakes up and chooses me.

Being married is awesome. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it is also the most awesome thing. In high school, I used to give my friends weird looks when they would tell me that their boyfriend was their best friend. Uhm, excuse me? I’m right here. I would think when my childhood best friend would tell me that her boyfriend was her best friend and how she couldn’t wait to marry her best friend. Okay, that’s cool. I would think at those statements. Not that I was trying to marry my best friend. I wasn’t getting married, but I didn’t understand the boyfriend being the best friend deal. This guy had been a part of her life for months. Many months, sure, but I was running the yearlong game. At that time, we were at 14 years of being best friends. In a matter of months, some dude had just replaced me. At least, it sounded that way. To me, those things were separate. I had my best friends, the people I grew up with, my family. A boyfriend wasn’t coming anywhere near that level of love from me or that level of trust. They each had their own containers in my mind and there was no mixing.

I thought I knew everything. I thought I saw all the failed relationships and was doing the smart thing by not getting invested. I saw the horrific divorce my parents went through and decided that if I could avoid that, I would have everything I needed in life. Watching two people who claimed to love each other try and ruin each other really kills any hope you had in love. Instead, I would just enjoy happy endings in books and movies all the while knowing that they weren’t real. 

Then I met my husband and now I’m living in my happily ever after. It is one we both fought for though. He had to fight for me first though. Like I said, it wasn’t an easy transition to come around to the idea of getting married. I finally understand the best friend deal. My husband is my best friend. I still have my girl besties. But there is a different best friend level with husbands. He is my best friend and we are building a life together. My friends and I are living life together. I understand it guys! Growth.

Now though, I love being married. I love watching how we serve each other in our love and support each other. My husband helps with everything that is Writing Out Loud. He helps me edit; he listens to my podcasts beforehand. He encourages me. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, he holds me. He prays for me. I love planning out futures together. Potential business ideas we could implement if we ever got an enormous sum of money. I love hearing his dreams and working together to figure out how to make them a reality. I love how the things we both love brings us closer. I also enjoy the times when we’re in the same room, doing our own thing, but we’re still together and that is all we care about. 

For our anniversary last week, we had a movie night. We put Little Man to bed, made some popcorn and cuddled up on the couch. We watched A Simple Favor (this movie was all sorts of awesome) and talked about all the things we loved about it. I love our date nights and how simple they get to be because all we care about is being together. We have writing dates where we hang out at a coffee shop or a library and work on our writing pieces. We have dates where we just walk through stores and their furniture department and design rooms mentally. We have dates where we go and make booklists at the bookstore, telling each other what books sound good. 

I love when something awesome happens, when I accomplish something that I set out to do, he gets just as excited as I do if not more. He is walking along side me and cheering me on along the way. He puts me first and that is the most amazing feeling in the world. 

Now, I’m just a sap over here because 8 years is a long time. I know people who have been married multiple times in that time frame. I know people who have been married, divorced and married again in the past 8 years. Please don’t take that as judging, I’m just pointing out how we live in a culture where divorce is very common. I think it’s nice to see a story where the marriage wins. 

This is what I love about being married. Marriage is awesome guys. It is always worth fighting for. 

Easy Date Nights

During our first few years of marriage, before Little Man was even an idea or a concept, we took a class called Love & Respect which was videos and the book Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerich. This class should be part of pre-marital counseling, if you ask me. This class opened my eyes to see marriage in a different light. Plus, it solved half my problems before they actually became a problem. One of the important things this class stressed was daily time with your spouse, that was just you two. Time that the kid (or kids) knew not to bother you and they did something else for those fifteen minutes or whatever. It was called couch time. My hubby and I are kinda awful at couch time. We spend a lot of time together doing similar activities and doing the shoulder to shoulder thing Eggerich talks about. But, one thing we latched onto, eventually, was date night.

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Traveling & Inspiration

I never understood people who said they needed to travel, as if it was oxygen. I also didn’t understand those who claimed wanderlust. My family never put a priority on traveling. We travelled for need. There was a family thing happening that we needed to be at so we went and that was that. For my 8th birthday, my present was to go to Illinois to visit my family and meet my cousin. That was cool but after that, I never really travelled again. Well, I did a trip for the Thespian club I was in. After that though, seriously, no traveling. My naive self didn’t realize how much fun it could be. I didn’t even care that we didn’t travel for our honeymoon. In fact, I was relieved when we decided to stay home, in Vegas, and do touristy things for our honeymoon. 

Within the past year, we’ve decided we rather do more fun things than have fun things. Like, TV’s are cool but have you been to Universal Studios? Have you been to a beach? The beach is a happy place for me. I can just sit in the sand all day with a journal and I’ll be good. Last summer, we took Little Man to the beach and had the best day ever. We bought an umbrella, had snacks and books and my journal and I did not want to leave. I didn’t even care that much about getting into the water. (I did for Little Man) but I was content just existing on the beach. I was content. I didn’t need anything else, just the view. After we got home the following day, it was all Little Man could talk about. He kept asking when we were going to go to the beach again. So, we decided that we were going to start traveling more, budget permitting. We decided that gifts could also be travel, holidays can be celebrated with travel. Plus, living 4 (ish) hours away from California and the things I want to do there makes life easier. 

One of the biggest tips in the writing world is that you need to be living life if you want to write. Your characters will have life on those pages and you need all the experiences you can give. Google helps but it doesn’t replace experiencing something for yourself. At least for me. I couldn’t write about a theme park and a character going to one without going through one myself. In Vegas we have the Adventuredome, which is a theme park but it is completely different than big theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios. Completely different and if I were to write a character based on my experiences at Adventuredome, it would probably be about walking around in a giant circle and occasionally going on rides. 

This summer only we have travelled more than in the 9 years we have been together. I am enjoying every single second of our travels and the extra special family time we get. I love seeing Little Man experience new things and get excited over rides and roller coasters. With all this travel, I’ve had ideas and story arcs that I wouldn’t have thought of at home because I don’t have the same scenery. I meet interesting people I can put into a character. It’s more for me to draw from. Every time we go somewhere new, we try to find something we cannot do back home and it is always exciting to look around for something fun to do. (Thank you travel blogs!)

It’s so nice to take a step away from normal, daily life and experience a new place with new people and new things. I will say Washington is totally different than Vegas. In all the best ways. Mainly the heat, I left 100+ temperatures, experienced beautiful 80’s and then came home in the middle of the night to 104. The weather alone made the trip amazing. We could do everything outside. Now that I’m home, I cannot do everything outside. However, I can look into doing new things here at home. I won’t be able to travel all the time. That doesn’t mean I cannot experience new things at home though. While traveling is amazing and I understand those people I mentioned earlier a little better, inspiration can be found in travel and seeing new places. Experiencing new things can also draw inspiration. You just gotta look around a little bit. 

Universal Studios

A few weeks ago I took my son on his first trip to Universal Studios. I haven’t been to Disneyland yet in my life but this was my third trip to Universal. My dad took me and my brothers when we were little and all I remember is the T-Rex from the Jurassic Park ride and there was some tour where I was sitting on my dad’s shoulders and there was fire. My second trip was hubby’s and mine first vacation. That trip was about 2 years ago, meaning we were together for 7 years before we took our first real trip together. (And we are never letting another 7 years go by before our next one.) 

So for my third, it was Little Man’s and my first trip together just us. We got to visit with some of my family who live in California and go to my favorite place on earth. I know everybody says Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but for me, it is Universal Studios. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I see Disneyland but Disneyland doesn’t have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Little Man is a little guy and was tall enough for exactly 1 ride. Well, one big person ride. There is an awesome area called Silly Fun Land that is modeled after the carnival from Despicable Me. Little Man is tall enough for the rides and things in that area because it was designed for the little people. The one ride he was tall enough for was the Flight of the Hippogriff in Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My son looks an awful lot like my husband, like his little mini me. For every ounce he looks like my husband though, he acts like me. He asked me three more times to go back and ride that roller coaster again. He loved it so much! He also handled the long line for the rollercoaster like a champ. (FYI roller coasters are my favorite.) 

So basically, we had a blast and he hasn’t stopped asking me when we get to go back ever since. So, I am going to share some tips and tricks I have from my trips to Universal and all the research I did before these trips

1. Strollers are your friend. 

Little Man is four and I don’t think I’ve stuck him in a stroller since he was two. However, when thinking about the crowds and how was I going to keep Little Man close to me, allow me to feel safe and like I’ve got him, my options were a stroller or a leash. Strollers also have the benefit that he gets to rest his legs when he gets tired of walking. If you’re like me and haven’t owned a stroller in years, you can rent one at the park for $15 and it is the best $15 you’ll spend there. 

2. Backpacks are a must.

Adios purse! I ditched my cute bag for a backpack and it was so nice to have my hands free. I kept my jacket in there along with my water bottle and other things that I needed to carry around with me, like a battery pack for my phone) Also, it was great place to stash any goodies I bought in the different areas while I was walking around. Like, my son’s transformer. Also, I ditched my wallet for a small id carrier and that made carrying all my important cards and cash so much easier.

3. Caffeine? 

If you like soda or just enjoy drinking caffeine all day long, Universal Studios has a souvenir cup they sell that allows you to have unlimited refills of soda all day long. There are multiple fill up stations throughout the park for you to keep it full. 

4. Cash is King.

This is a saying that has been around for decades. Pulling out cash just makes the park easier. I like to budget what I get to spend at the park, pull it out in cash and then ONLY spend that. I don’t use my card for anything and just use my cash. Using cash also keeps me in budget and makes me really think about what I am buying. It is so easy to swipe a card but sometimes it can be hard to remember every single time you used it when you’re trying to stay in budget. Using cash, you just count what you have and that is what you have. Simple! 

5. Have fun!

Family trips and theme parks are supposed to be fun! Breathe and go in with a go with the flow mentality. This is the opposite of me normally. I’m a planner and I research and make game plans for anything I do. I throw all that away when I take trips. Trips are supposed to be relaxing and fun. Am I going to be exhausted after being out all day? Probably. I’m getting old and being out all day is just exhausting. Once I get into the park though, I have zero control over what happens. I cannot control a 45 minute line to just get popcorn. I cannot control a 60 minute line for a ride while a toddler who wants to jump around all over the place. I cannot control people trying to hang out in a pathway to get to the stroller parking. I can either breathe and let it go, or let it frustrate me and let it ruin my trip. I rather go home with a smile on my face instead of thinking about all the things that went wrong. Let your inner child out and have fun!

P.S. Meet all the characters you can, totally worth it 🙂

Meeting Bumblebee was one of Little Man’s favorite things.

Mommy/Son Dates

When I was a kid, Saturday mornings were for my mom. We would go out on mommy/daughter dates and spend most of Saturday together. Usually we went to run some errands, sometimes Costco or Sam’s Club trips. We would go to the bookstore so I could pick out a book. We would go to the mall and sometimes I even got to get a book from the bookstore in the mall. (which is no longer a thing and hurts my heart.) We would get lunch at Applebee’s when we were done. Sometimes Chili’s, but normally it was Applebee’s. I can still see the restaurant in my head where we would sit in the big booths next to the big windows. I could people watch and see all the cars driving in the parking lot. It wasn’t glamorous but it was my time with my mom and I loved every single second of it.

Now that I have my little man, I decided to keep the tradition going. We have mommy/son dates once a week. Usually, it involves a trip to Starbucks to start us off, I like caffeine and Lucas gets a little treat. It’s really a win/win situation. Then we’ll run any errands I might need to run. After the errands, if any, we go do something fun for us. Sometimes we go to the library, or the bookstore. Now that the weather is better than rain but not too hot yet, we might go to a park, or maybe I’ll take him to the museum. The point of these activities is that he gets to do whatever he wants and have fun. If we go to the library, he gets to pick whatever books he wants to check out and we can sit and read whatever he wants to read while we are there. Our library also has coloring stations so he can color whatever he likes. 

During our dates, I make a concentrated effort to keep my phone away unless I am taking pictures. If someone texts or calls and it can wait, it waits until after my date. My focus is on Little Man and whatever we are doing. Little man loves to talk and tell me stories so I listen and keep track of everything he tells me. His favorite thing right now is to shout out “banana” and “apple pie” randomly. 

My favorite thing about keeping this tradition is that we have so much fun. Last week we went to California so our mommy/son date was Universal Studios and we did whatever he wanted there. I stopped to see every character he wanted to see. We waited in lines for whatever ride he wanted. I’ll be posting about the trip soon so keep an eye out for that. I cannot wait to share all the fun we had. This week we did a Target run where he got to pick out a toy and we went and got lunch. After lunch we hung out at the place for a little bit (they had wifi) I worked on getting next month ready in my planner and he did his ABCMouse for a half hour. While our date was smaller this week, we still had a good time. Our date was smaller this week because later that day we picked up my brother to take him out for dinner and went to the bookstore and we all got a book. 

My pastor tells us constantly that children spell love T-I-M-E. He isn’t wrong. I know one day Little Man will grow up and I’ll be the last person he will want to hang out with, so for right now, I’m going to do my mommy/son dates while they make him happy. He even asks for them now. “Mommy, can we go on a date?”