Scenes From My Weekend

Waking up my husband…photo(19)…with maple walnut scones, for a Saturday breakfast in bed.

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Things (i.e. getting up early to bake on Saturdays) are getting a little more challenging now at the end of my pregnancy, so I have a feeling this little breakfast in bed tradition might go on hiatus for a while.

Unless I just do something like toast and jam. I could probably still handle that.

Till the baby comes.

What did your weekend look like? Share glimpses with us at Communal Global and link up below!



Celebrating {Five}

awesome years of marriage!

Our vows, in visual form

Our vows & snippets of a Pablo Neruda poem read at our ceremony, in visual form

In five years together, we’ve…

- honeymooned in Costa Rica
- survived my doctoral degree program
- celebrated each other’s triumphs
- Burned on the playa
- took a leap and moved across the globe
- driven the wrong way up a street and down a sidewalk
- joined the fight against child slavery
- adopted a puppy
- bought a car entirely in cash
- ridden motorcycles through rice paddies
- stepped foot in Burma
- learned a new language
- helped each other pursue dreams
- rode elephants through the jungle and played with baby tigers
- partied til dawn in Kreuzberg
- seen the splendor of the Blue Ridge parkway in autumn
- drank American beer in Prague
- walked across the remains of Auschwitz
- driven on the autobahn
- eaten dim sum in Hong Kong and duck fat fries in Charleston
- drank Manhattans in Manhattan
- gotten pregnant with our first child
- learned that a solid marriage makes each person stronger together than they ever were alone
- still come to love the comforts of simple pleasures, like a good cup of coffee and breakfast in bed

and…

- found each other was all we needed to make a home

Here’s to many, many more adventure-filled years! I love you, babe.

wedding

From our wedding ceremony:

from Ode & Burgeonings
Pablo Neruda

“And one by one the nights
between our separated cities
are joined to the night that unites us.
The light of each day,
its flame or its repose,
they deliver to us, taking them from time,
and so our treasure
is disinterred in shadow or light,
all love is enclosed in our love:
all thirst ends in our embrace.
…And here we survive,
pure, with the purity that we created,
broader than the earth that could not lead us
astray,
eternal as the fire that will burn
as long as life endures.”

15 Ways In Which Toby and I Differ

_TMK7508You might not think it to look at us but Toby and I have a lot in common. Sometimes, we have such similar tastes, we end up ordering the same dishes at restaurants (or, more fortuitously, we’re often each unable to decide between two dishes, only to find out it’s the same two dishes, so we each order one and share them).

But I saw this post on Pioneer Woman’s blog, and it made me wonder about what ways Toby and I are different from each other.

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Well, I guess there’s the obvious:

1. He’s tall and lanky.
I’m short and…not lanky. While I have trouble finding clothes that fit my hips, he has to duck his head indoors, near trees, and well, near pretty much anything made in Asia.

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And then there’s the not so obvious:

2. He will grab any frog, toad, millipede, lizard, and bug he comes across.
I’ll gaze at them from a safe distance.

3. He’ll eat chicken feet and duck face.
I’ll eat deep-fried salted fish and the cartilage off bones.

4. He prefers fruity sorbets.
I am addicted to chocolate or coffee flavored gelatos and ice creams.

5. He plays computer games to unwind.
I watch chick flicks that involve singing and dancing.

6. He can’t listen to the same song more than a couple of times, unless it’s spaced far apart.
I will get in moods and listen to the same handful of songs over and over, ad nauseum, ad infinitum, and on repeat.

7. He was born in New York and raised in the South.
I was born in the South and raised in California.

8. He has a head for science, engineering, and technology.
I have a head for pretty things.

9. He has a great capacity for remembering details of things he learns.
I can remember the big picture, but forget all the details–unless it’s to do with daily life, in which case it’s my duty to remind him lest he forget.

10. He acts first, then consults a map later when he’s gotten lost.
I pore over a map until the route is memorized before I step out the door.

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11. I procrastinate till the night before the work is due.
He procrastinates till the last 5 minutes.

12. He’s a gifted storyteller who will keep a whole crowd rapt with attention at his tales.
I tend to sit back and listen while others carry the conversation.

13. His temper is like a firecracker: explosive, and short-lived.
Mine is like a cauldron: slow to boil, slow to cool.

14. He’s had about 15 vehicles in as many years.
I had my first car for a decade, and would have held onto it longer, if I didn’t have to sell it when we moved to Thailand.

15. I scream for help when I see hand-sized Huntsman spiders.
He comes running with the camera.

And somehow we’ve managed to make this thing work for 12-some-odd years…

And this weekend, we’re going to have a weekend getaway to celebrate the 5 years that we’ve been married. Check out where we’re staying–I can’t wait!

Playing the Waiting Game–in Life, Marriage, and Motherhood

Strung out on a line

Strung out on a line

When I was in college, the largely unspoken, but prevailing belief seemed to be that smart, strong women could have plenty of fun dating around, but would want to get their degree and all their career ducks in a row before settling down. For some, random hookups were the mode de jour; for others, dating was one long stream of bad men. Only a few had really long relationships. And motherhood? That was for way later, if at all. Pregnancy would practically mean the end of your life. Taking birth control was the only smart choice.

The trouble is none of us had any idea how difficult it could be to find a good partner after college. When you join the work force, you enter a pool of widely varied, but highly limited options. There’s usually a huge age range—which makes finding unmarried age-mates more difficult, and when you spend the vast majority of your life in one office, meeting people outside that milieu gets incredibly hard. If there aren’t any suitable mates among your coworkers (and let’s not even get into in all the potential trials of an office relationship), you can be hard-pressed to find the time or place to even meet anyone else new.

I remember when I was a teenager, I used to dream that I’d go to college, get a fancy career started, find an awesome apartment in a big city, and then find my future husband, whom I’d marry, preferably around the age of 28. After a couple years of marriage, we’d have our first child, probably when I was around the age of 30. Thirty sounded like a good child-bearing age. That still would give me a couple of years to have my second child at 32 or so, and be done well before that fertility drop-off at 35.

I assumed getting pregnant was easy because all you hear, when you’re young, is about the girls who got pregnant even though they only had unprotected sex “that one time.”

I don’t know if it’s by luck or by choice, but I never had a string of bad men or bad relationships. Sure, I dated a jerk or two and a few guys who, though nice, weren’t going to captivate me long-term. But those were always obvious from the start and I never was one to stick around with a losing bet (I distinctly remember one relationship that had a shelf-life of “Four Tuesdays”—my best friend from college will get this reference; there were lots of fun, crazy memories from that episode in our lives). My relationships either lasted a few weeks or a few years—the long ones, even the ones that didn’t work out, were great while they lasted, and important learning experiences in preparation for marriage.

It turns out, I met my husband in college—though neither of us was anywhere near ready for marriage at the time. But we fell in love, probably to both our surprises, and we stuck around each other, even though “not ready” was a big light flashing above both our heads. Toby took a year to travel the world after he graduated college, and in the interim, we had both grown a lot. By the time he came back, I knew I was ready to think about marriage, even if we weren’t anywhere near ready to marry each other. We loved each other; we knew that much. I probably broke a slew of dating rules by doing this, but I told him, in no uncertain terms, that if we were going to be together, it would be with an eye towards marriage. Though we both knew there were no guarantees in this trial run, I wasn’t going to waste time with someone who was only in it “just for now.”

Luckily for me, he was on the same page, more or less, and the years following were a steady learning experience in which we tried out what marriage might look like, what commitment meant, and what it would mean to devote ourselves to another. By the time he proposed to me, I was 26 and we were ready. We had grown into marriage together. We had become ready together. When we did exchange vows, I had just turned 28.

But marriage isn’t the only odyssey one embarks on—there’s also parenthood. Having just gotten married, I wasn’t in any rush to have a child. There was my doctorate to finish and a career to start. Toby was only just getting his career off the ground, and a job in the tech industry at that time seemed volatile and uncertain. We lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and had other dreams too, namely involving travel. Maybe living abroad for a while. There was still adventure to be had and a baby seemed more like a huge complication and intense responsibility than the next inevitable step in our life progression. The biological clock had started ticking, but I ignored the bell toll.

Though I had heard that fertility decreases with age, I still assumed it would be easy enough to get pregnant. I did have one friend who was trying to get pregnant and had started fertility treatments. She warned me getting pregnant could take time. I heard, but didn’t hear.

When I turned 30, I finished my doctorate and we made plans to move to Thailand. Work with The SOLD Project was already lined up; all I had to do was get to northern Thailand. We were leaving everything we knew behind. That wasn’t the time to start thinking about babies.

After we got settled in Thailand, and Toby’s work situation seemed solid, I was getting integrated at SOLD and halfway through writing a manuscript, I began to listen more carefully to that biological clock. I went off the pill slightly before entirely ready, thinking it would take a few months for the pill’s effects to clear my system, so that, fingers crossed, I might be 100% ready when it did.

Then, I didn’t get pregnant. Our jobs got even better, visitors came and went, we had grown into life in Thailand…I still didn’t get pregnant. My best friend from college was also enduring her own trial of fertility problems, and my best friend from grad school had suffered miscarriages, and another friend was going through a divorce…so by this time, I was really hearing it: Yes, it can be freaking hard to get pregnant. We traveled to Hong Kong and saw more of Asia. I still didn’t get pregnant. We spent a month in Europe, I didn’t get pregnant. We went back to the U.S. for a month…if I didn’t get pregnant soon, we’d have to think about fertility treatments. I didn’t even want to know what that cost would look like. My mother and sister had both had miscarriages before being able to carry a child to term. My cousin is 40 and still unable to get a baby to take, despite almost a decade of treatments. I knew that even if I did get pregnant, it might not work on the first try, and I had to steel myself for that possibility.

It turn out that it was only when we no longer had a stream of life and travel plans that, after more than a year and a half off the pill, I got pregnant. I’m turning 33 next week, and my dreams of having two kids are now looking more like I’ll be blessed to have one. I’m okay with that, and even saying this, I want it to be clear that I’m not complaining. I doubt I’d make different choices even if I had the chance. I love the years Toby and I have had together, and I think the stability we’ve built and the life experiences we’ve had, having had that time, will only serve our child better.

But I feel incredibly lucky. I feel like it’s only partly our choices, and mostly by chance that things have worked out for us (so far—I don’t want to jinx this!). I look at women I know who’ve been trying for years and years to get pregnant, or friends who’ve suffered miscarriages, or others who still can’t find a life partner, and I know how easily it could have gone a different way.

It’s a myth we tell ourselves when we’re young that we can somehow control life and when and how it happens to us. We make plans for what sounds like a good age to marry, and to have children…and these days, that “perfect age” is getting later and later. Instead of right after college, many push it off to their late 20s. Some women, realistic about demands certain careers make, push it off into their 30s, or even later. We don’t factor in the potential for complications. When we make our timelines, we don’t consider the possibility of divorce. We don’t consider the possibility of infertility.

Though I did get married at 28, the truth is I met the man I would marry when I was 20. It took us 8 years to get where we needed to be. If I hadn’t taken my feelings for him seriously way back then, when I still felt I had other life goals to meet first, or vice versa with him for me, who knows where either of us might be? Maybe we would have found other people to love. Maybe there is such a thing as soul mates, and we really are the only ones for each other. Who can really say? Meanwhile, people perpetuate this fear that marriage really hampers one’s freedom and independence. We’ve found this to be entirely untrue for us. Marriage has given us each a strong foundation from which we can both fly—both separately, and together. It’s made us stronger than we would have been alone.

We tell ourselves, when we’re young, that to be real strong, smart women, we have to put education and career before absolutely everything else. The truth is, life goals can exist side by side. You don’t have to put your ducks in a row…sometimes, you just kind of herd them along together. The trend now is to stave off marriage and family until you’ve lived your life first. What makes for “the right time” is an incredibly personal decision and it varies widely from person to person, but I do think we women do ourselves a disservice when we don’t make clear to each other that there are potential tradeoffs when we put off childbearing; that while you’re busy living your life, it can become increasingly harder (and harder than we think it will be) to be able to bear life. We underestimate how fragile life can be, and how uncertain fertility is. We all popped our birth control pills every day for years, each of us never knowing if we’d be the one who’d get pregnant on the first try, the one who would need years of fertility treatments, or the one who couldn’t get pregnant at all.

We can’t control when life happens to us, but we can be honest and informed about the consequences of our choices, and we can listen carefully to our inner guides about who is right for us and when we’re ready. From an employer’s perspective, there’s never a good time for a woman to get pregnant. But your life is your own. External deadlines matter little compared to the timeline we feel ticking along inside.

*   *   *

This post was inspired by this one, “26 and Already Pregnant,” by Kate from Eat The Damn Cake. If you’re interested in more fun facts about delayed marriage and child-rearing, check out this post, “The Sweet Spot for Tying the Knot,” by Susan Walsh at Hooking Up Smart.

They Say…

…the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This is definitely a true story where my husband is concerned (and I’m endlessly grateful to my mom for teaching me the finer arts of taste & cuisine). Today, he brought me roses, and I won him over with these:

Lemon cookies with a citrus glaze, light and tangy like the best romances. I know a lot of people who take almost a smugly superior pride in being not into Valentine’s Day, but I’m one of those romantic saps who still appreciates a gentleman and likes to be treated to something special from time to time.

It’s not about going to the fanciest restaurant or being doused in gifts. After over a decade of being together, Toby & I don’t need ostentatious. But I do think it’s important to show our love and appreciation for each other, have a little fun together, and do something nice to make each other happy – all year long, including Valentine’s Day. Because why not?

So tonight, we’ll take a little night safari and enjoy dinner out. We’ll tell each other about our day and maybe curl up in front of the TV briefly before bed. We’ll laugh and tickle and tease, and it will be perfect because it will be exactly just us. It will be perfect because, no matter how far or long we travel, we know this:

As my husband once said, home, for him, is wherever I am. And my home is wherever he is too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

* Recipe for these cookies can be found here. (I made mine with lemons, rather than oranges.)

For the month of February, Bigger Picture Blogs is celebrating LOVE! Share a loved or loving moment with us – it can be anything: a poem, a memory, an ode or yearning, so long as it comes from the heart!

Bigger Picture Moments
Live. Love. Capture. Encourage.

This week we’re linking up at Brook’s!

Smom.

We were sitting on the couch, snagging a quiet moment for cuddling in between catching up on emails and logging in more hours of work. I shared an interesting biological factoid I’d read about genetics,

and he said, “What about your mom’s mom? Or your mom’s mom’s mom? Smom. Smom. Smom. It’s like Calvin & Hobbes, when Hobbes gets hung up on the word smock. Smock, smock, smock. SMOM. It’s such a weird word.”

me: “It’s not actually a word.”

him: “SMOM.”

and we cracked up. I don’t think either of us could have said what was so funny, but that moment right there, sitting on the couch, laughing with each other over Smoms…

…was one of the highlights of my week. Love is good.

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us!

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up HERE!
WE’VE ALSO OPENED UP REGISTRATION FOR TWO NEW
WRITING CIRCLE EVENTS!
Tuesday, February 5, 8:00 p.m. CST: Fiction: Fantasy {Host: Jade}
Wednesday, February 13, 8:00 p.m. CST: Memoir {Host: Hyacynth}



Glimmer

Sunlight filters through the bedroom window, raining down like soft God kisses, tracing a golden outline along the edge of his russet-coffee curls, slipping over the contours of a sharp-angled jaw line, spreading like lover’s fingers over tanned, broad, shoulders and sloping down to narrow waist to catch the fold of white bed sheets over a masculine hip. His breath is an almost imperceptible gesture as he drifts from sleep to wake.

Awareness dawns. Slow, like the crawl of light into shadow, he shifts to face me, vestiges of dreams still clinging to his thick eyelashes, and to his soft lips, that late afternoon playground where old kisses linger like reluctant, yet satiated children called home to dinner.

This is the treasure moment. He opens his eyes and I see heavens and night skies in the glimmer of just-waking blues. If looks were words, this would be a passage I’d underline and transcribe for safekeeping. I am caught, and it’s like the feeling you have when everything has been stripped away, like the proverbial dream where you’re standing in front of an auditorium, giving a speech, and suddenly realize you’re naked. Except this time, the audience is not laughing; they’re gazing at me in awe and wonder – and I, simultaneously vulnerable and emboldened, think I might stand a little taller. It’s that kind of feeling.

This is the moment when he kisses me and means it. Not a quick peck. Not a ritual goodbye or goodnight. It’s a welcome to the day. It’s the burgeoning of love, like each morning is the first we’ve ever spent together, and here, in this fraction of a minute, there are only two of us in the whole world and we are protected, impermeable. There are a thousand ways to fall in love, but only one way to surrender – and that is: completely.

I surrender. In that glistening, golden moment, there is only surrender.

I always want it to last. But the day and the dog beckon, and, in a flash, it’s gone. I turn to my side and prepare for my own day while he is already out of bed and putting on clothes. I feel wistful for a bleary-eyed, heavy-headed moment, missing the thread of connection already.

I rise and exchange the slippers of melancholy for my solid, sturdy work boots and trudge out of the resurrection place, out to greet the day. I stop pining after glimmers and ghosts, knowing that the moment will return.

It will be back tomorrow.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

::

This piece was written for a Bigger Picture Blogs Writing Circle, where a group of writers convene online, respond to a prompt, and share their words to receive collective praise and constructive advice. If you would like to join in, we have new dates available in October. Check out the details and sign up HERE!

 

Shared as this week’s Bigger Picture Moment

{Bigger Picture Moments} Dancing Under Wisteria

Photography by Kelly Segre Photography

It was after everyone had departed. The grounds were quiet. Guests had headed to their hotels to change or freshen up for the reception. Our photographers had taken all the shots they needed after the ceremony. Our wedding party had a few minutes to wander the gardens in the golden evening light, and we had a few minutes to bask in the glow of: yes, we are actually married.

Everything else melted away and it was just me and him, an untouchable two who had newly become one.

What a special feeling that is, isn’t it? You remember it, even years later: the warmth on your skin, the way he squeezed your hand extra tight, the radiance of colors, the effervescence of love. You’re so full of it, you’re positively thrumming. It feels impossible to fit that much happiness in one being all at once.

So we danced. We took strident, world-conquering steps together towards the wisteria arch, under which we were wed. And in the shade of fragrant, lavender blossoms, we danced. Coordinating our steps to the song in our hearts, he led with princely poise and I twirled down on Cinderella toes.

In the garden, in the quiet, in the glow, we danced.

Photography by Kelly Segre Photography

 

Each Thursday, we come together to share the harvest of intentional living by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. And to spice it up a little, during the month of FEBRUARY, we’ll be reflecting upon the tender gifts of love that bring sparkle our lives.

Share a picture, words, creation or list; just come to the table with LOVE in your heart. 

Live.
Reflect on the blessings that were apparent to you this week.
 
Capture.
Harvest them!

Share.
Link up your gleaned moment this week HERE! Please be sure to link to your post, not your blog. Your post must link back here or have our button in your post or the link will be deleted.

Encourage.
Visit at least the person linked before you and encourage her in this journey we call life.

 

what it means to heal

Melissa’s brave post reminded me of one I wrote a few years ago. I want to revisit it now, because some moments are worth remembering from time to time.

“We know who we are and define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them….I’d lost my closest friends and with them I’d lost the mark on the psychic map that says You Are Here.” -Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

Seven years ago, I lost my husband – or rather, I should say, we lost each other. Everything I thought I knew about love and relationships came crashing down around my ears in that moment, and I was left crying and bleeding on the cold tiled bathroom floor. All I could think was “This is the sound of my heart breaking. This is what heartbreak feels like.” It was then that I learned what strength meant, what it required, and what I had in me to endure.

We parted ways and the damage seemed irrevocable.

It took nearly a year, a long-distance phone call, a few soul-searching letters, and a midnight conversation on a pier overlooking the ink black ocean before we found each other again. Even then, I think our souls recognized each other before our wary minds and jaded hearts did. Because heartbreak changes you. When it happens to you, you are never the same again.

It took two more years before I found a place where I could say I had healed. There are scars still, a few ghost twinges of pain remembered, but I finally felt we had rebuilt something new: something so much stronger, and so much deeper, so solid that I could trust it for a lifetime.

Because forgiveness is not something you easily or automatically have; where you flip a switch and suddenly it’s there. It’s a choice you make every day: a choice between grumbling over the hurts of the past, or dealing with what’s in front of you here and now. It’s not always the big traumas that doom a relationship. Often it’s the little things we do every day that either strengthen or undermine the bond between ourselves and others.

Commitment is not just a promise you make on your wedding day. It’s also a choice you make every day. Sometimes the choice is so easy you never even think of it. It can be as simple as picking up the phone, picking up the kids, or picking up the socks from the floor. Or it can be as difficult and profound as the right words at the right time, an embrace when it’s most needed, or refusing to act in a way the other might “deserve”, and instead acting in the best way you can find to keep your relationship strong. It’s insisting upon sticking through the rough patches to reach the sun on the other side. Even when you’re not entirely convinced the sun is there.

When you lose someone you love, it is like losing the magnetic pull on the compass of who you are. But sometimes being lost for a time is necessary. Becoming truly lost means you finally know who you are when everything else is stripped away. That way, when you begin again, you know what is real. It gives you the strength you need to make a leap, to love someone when all you have is hope, and trust when all you have is a shred of tiny, but nevertheless stubborn, faith.

The second time around you are stronger. Wiser. More thoughtful. And all that was, was worthwhile, to have what you have now. Finding out that the love you thought was lost has actually been with you all the while, and moreover, that the love is better and deeper than you ever believed love could be is like getting a glimpse of the Eternal. It is something too powerful to be felt completely, all at once.

So I do the only thing I can. I celebrate it in little pieces, every day.

Join in sharing a simple, big moment at Melissa’s this week!

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