Joel and I recently celebrated our NINTH wedding anniversary! We’ve been together almost thirteen years total. I have repeated this fact to myself over and over again the past few days. It seems surreal. Especially since I never thought I’d get married in the first place! But goodness, am I glad I did.
We always take time around our anniversary to stop and reflect. Escaping for a few days to explore, our favorite thing to do together.
This year was one of the best anniversary trips we’ve taken! We traveled around Iowa and Wisconsin over five days, our primary home base being my family’s cabin in Lansing, Iowa.
Before I dive into what we did, I want to tell you how the morning of our vacation started before we left because I think it’s important that some real life gets thrown into this shiny, happy post! We got water in our basement. A LOT of water. The dogs lost their minds at the vet, Madison had to get muzzled. I had a nail in my tire that needed to be fixed before we left. The dogs lost their minds again at home and pushed a glass platter down the stairs, breaking it. Something come up at work that they needed to contact me about. All before noon. After some big breaths and an undying will to continue on as planned, we made it out of the house!
We started out in Madison, Wisconsin. We both love Madison. Great city. College town. Pretty hip. Lots to do. We didn’t have much time to wander around this time because we were in town to see Jeff Tweedy from Wilco perform at an art museum. I had been to a Wilco show before and Joel is constantly listening to them so I had a good idea of what we were getting into. But wow. What a show. I was in tears several times. Jeff is a king lyricist. And for as serious as his lyrics are, he’s actually a pretty funny guy. Time flew and neither of us wanted it to end!
We had to venture home after staying the night in Madison because Twins had a show in Des Moines. So on our way back we hit up Chris Farley’s childhood home in Madison and then the Field of Dreams in Dyersville! I had never been to either, so it was pretty neat.
The following day we traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin – our favorite Wisconsin city hands down. We hit up our regular haunts, napped in the park (beyond relaxing), and then ended the day taking a walk with “Mark Twain” as he told us about the Mississippi River. This one man, outdoor play was wonderful. I never realized that Mark Twain was a humorist. For a humorist, he was quite an insightful man. Some of the lines spoken were extremely moving and very relevant in our current political state.
We finished the trek where three different rivers intersect at the end of the La Crosse river walk. Mark Twain said this is a sign of a sacred space according to Native Americans. We were in a hidden garden. The sun was setting over the water. Ducks were peacefully swimming nearby. I was with Joel. Mark Twain was standing in front of us. A sacred space indeed.
On our last day before packing up to go home, we went south into Wisconsin. We checked out some spots just outside of and in Prairie du Chien. We stopped by an apple orchard/pumpkin patch, walking away without any fresh fruit, but with a bag of fresh bakery items instead! Then we ventured into an area that we hadn’t been before, off the beaten path. I’ll let the pictures do the talking but essentially we found a large equipment graveyard. I may have broken a couple of rules and committed a minor crime while we were there, but I made it out without being arrested!
We were also excited to find an antique shop we hadn’t seen before. If you are in that area and like reasonably priced antiques, check out Checkers Antiques! Nice people, amazing selection, open for 50 years – so they know what’s up.
Overall, it was a very relaxing trip. In between adventures we made sure to reaffirm our commitment to one another, celebrate victories, learn from challenges (like the five in a row we experienced before leaving!), and look into the future.
I’m lucky for this man and all he brings to my life. We seem to feel happier each year we are together, which I am immensely grateful for. Being by his side is my favorite part of living. We’ve built a simple yet incredible life together that only keeps getting better. Here’s to staying aligned and in love for many more years, J! Glad you’re on my team.
I’ve written recently about “going through instead of around.” This has become my primary mantra for a variety of different reasons.
But you know what? As necessary as it is, going through is TOUGH. My feet have been dragging when I get to the point of having to go through, and because of this, I have a lot of ickiness going on inside. I don’t like it, but I also don’t want to start reflecting out of fear that I’ll hate what I uncover. Along with being tough, going through isn’t always much fun, either.
A lot of my current physical and mental struggles have to do with being way too busy, but not knowing what I can weed out for the personal time I need. Everything seems equally important and the people pleaser in me is out in full force. Social events that I continue to deeply struggle with keep crashing into me, non-stop, forcing me to be “on” all the time (if I can muster the brain energy – sometimes all people get is my physical body in the same space as them, nodding and smiling along). Breathing exercises during car rides to and from commitments are “my time.” And that’s not enough.
My marriage is feeling it. My work is feeling it. My relationships are feeling it.
I need to start going through. UUUGGGHHH! But I don’t want to. But I want to. But I really don’t want to…But I should.
I have a precious five hours to myself one morning this weekend that I’m hoping to take advantage of for a good ol’ self-check-in – reevaluation of my current priorities, and dissection of my physical and mental state. (All while I try to get my garden planted.) I’ve let things go a little too long. I’ve avoided going through one day, one week, one month (or more) too many.
Life is something, isn’t it? Sometimes no amount of gratitude for what we have can relieve the pressure it puts on us. With or without our permission.
It’s the journey through that counts. If you can put things into perspective, the trenches are some of the best places to trudge through because that's where the true strength that each and every one of us possess comes out. Takes care of us. Gets us back on track. Maybe even onto a better track that we didn’t even know we were looking for. Bring it on – let’s go through!
We had a pretty nice holiday at the Sires' household. We soaked in the glow of our Christmas tree, watched lots of holiday movies, snuggled in with our pups, and indulged in too many treats!
To balance out the peaceful calm, we threw some chaos of our own making into the mix. As usual, we were the people out shopping for ALL of our gifts the week before (up to the day before) Christmas. Never fails. We never mean to wait so long and we're not unthoughtful people, it has truly just become a laughable tradition of ours. At least we're experiencing the madness together!
This year was a little different for us because some of our normal traditions with family shifted slightly. The shift meant that we had Christmas Eve completely open, no commitments. (!!!) We tried to be intentional about what we chose to do in hopes of creating one or two new traditions that we could carry into the future.
It was a pretty laid back day. We slept in, rose slowly, had brunch, wrapped the last of our gifts, napped, took a walk, and went to church in the evening. The pace was dreamy. It felt so strange to have such a leisurely day in the middle of the busiest few days of our year, but I think we both welcomed and needed it.
My absolute favorite part of our Christmas Eve together was our walk. We took a walk around our property, taking time to stop, look around, and breathe in the crisp air. We fell in love with our acreage in the winter, so winter always feels an extra kind of special around here. Our dreams for this place took shape in the quiet, cold, and snowy months before we made it our home.
This type of reflection as a couple is undoubtedly the best new tradition that sprouted from our extra eight hours together during the holidays. My love for him, who we've become as individuals and as a couple, and the life we've built together has never felt stronger than in those stolen hours.
I hope you embraced new traditions along with the old this holiday season and were able to be present in both. Wishing you a wonderful holiday and happy new year!
Here are some “family photos” we attempted on Christmas Eve! Attempted being the key word. No amount of treats can persuade our dogs to take a photo!
Joel and I love to spend time in Cedar Rapids. Partially because that's where he comes from, partially because it has so much to offer.
If you haven't been to Cedar Rapids in awhile, I suggest you make the trip. The city is flourishing with so many great public spaces, stores, restaurants, arts facilities and other unique options to take advantage of.
I took a couple of days off to spend time with Joel and we decided to spend one of the days in Cedar Rapids. We visited some of our favorite places and I wanted to share some of those places with you!
Our first stop is always the Newbo City Market.
The city market has a lot to offer. Diverse food options, handmade items, hardy plants, sweet treats, essential oils and more. On this visit, we tried the Mexican food booth and their new crepe booth. Both were DELICIOUS!
We resisted buying anything else this time around, but did some browsing!
I was hoping our next stop would be this new, cute shop that is inside an old farmhouse style home. Unfortunately it wasn't open, but I took a picture of it so perhaps you can stop in next time you are in town. It's called Little House Artifacts. They have a lot of really creative repurposed and upcycled items alongside traditional antique goods.
Before leaving the Newbo area, we stopped by a shop we hadn't been to before. It was called Newbo Mercantile & Vintage Shop.
The shop owner was very nice. She and I chatted the entire time we were in the store. They offered vintage clothing and other items, eco-friendly and natural goods, DIY supplies, tea, and other miscellaneous gifts.
I bought a few things. Eco Bags (four total) that I can use for bulk and fresh foods when shopping, and honey from a local hive. See below for one of the Eco Bags. I was so excited to find some of these! (Plastic is bad. Boo, plastic!)
The final place we stopped in downtown CR was my favorite store - Gooselake Creations. This store has a very unique selection - similar to the Little House - with a mix of repurposed and upcycled items alongside traditional antique goods.
I go here to look at what they have to offer, of course, but my main reason for stopping by is for inspiration. I have never left without a new idea that I can't wait to get home and execute. The shop owner is as colorful as the items he sells, is very kind and makes you feel like you're his only customer.
I walked away with some new ideas and a couple of items. A "Bees & Honey" poster inside a window frame and two rust orange baskets. We already hung the poster, but I'm still thinking about where I want the baskets!
This is just a tiny glimpse into what Cedar Rapids has to offer. I hope you'll take some time to explore this city when you have a chance!
Joel and I had our first sleepover with our sweet, three-year-old nephew, Max, this past weekend. We were mostly excited and a little nervous. We've never babysat a child overnight before, so it was uncharted territory.
We anxiously awaited Saturday morning when we were set to pick him up. We discussed an itinerary full of the fun things we could do together. I bought everything we needed the night before - kid-friendly food and craft supplies.
His parents are great, Joel's brother Harper and his wife, Sara. They do a wonderful job of preparing Max for new adventures he goes on so he knows exactly what to expect. He's a really smart little guy, too, so he understands everything they're telling him.
When we arrived to get him, he had picked out two "Minion" buttons from the store - one for each of us. He had his bags packed and he was ready to go!
We started off the day at Bloomsbury Farm (highly recommended if you're looking for a day trip somewhere that is sure to keep little ones entertained). There were activities galore (some pictured at the end of this post), and Max loved it all. He took a little snooze on the way home and when we got back to our house he settled in with Joel to watch a movie before noticing that I was working outside (I needed to water my flowers). He wanted to "work hard" so he asked to help me, which of course I said "Yes" to! We did a little work and explored our property before coming in for supper.
Bath time and bed time were a breeze - and get this - he actually wanted to go to bed...How much more perfect can this kid get?! Joel read him stories until he fell asleep and he slept like a log all night long.
We enjoyed a pancake breakfast, pumpkin painting, and "band practice" before leaving for a family member's birthday party where we were set to drop Max off. We made a pit stop at the mall to walk around and ride the children's rides, including the cool train that drives around Crossroads Mall. It was the cherry on top of a great weekend with Max.
Throughout our adventures in babysitting, we both made some interesting observations that gave us some insight into what being a parent might be like. The primary observation being we now understand how some couples can become "disconnected" from each other when there are children involved. Obviously, the joyful experiences that children bring outweigh the bad and make everything worth it, but because your focus is so much on the happiness and well-being of the child, it's easy to lose sight of your partner, their happiness and well-being.
We noticed this in two days. In our minds, I know we both multiplied that disconnected feeling by 18 years. That was eye opening for us, who at this point in our lives, are so connected we literally can predict each other's thoughts and actions 99.9% of the time.
I'm happy that we both observed the same things, took time to reflect, and discussed how what we observed made us feel. We both agreed that although we had an absolute blast, returning to our "me and him" normalcy was welcomed.
We treated ourselves to some activities that he and I like to do together to top the weekend off. Library, movie, dinner, Hulu. I think we both had a renewed feeling about how much we mean to each other, how lucky we are to have each other as a best friend, and how happy we are doing our own thing as a two person family right now.
There's nothing wrong with being thirty-somethings with no kids. To each their own. Maybe tomorrow, next week, next month our tune will change - but in this present moment - we have each other and that is enough.
That cute crew pictured with me above is my family. They greet me when I get home and smother me in love. I'm a lucky woman.
Recently, Joel said something that made me feel all the things: "In our family we..." This simple statement really struck me.
I've always believed that we make our own paths. Regardless of what our past was like, we have the choice to make our lives what we want them to be. I'm not a fan of the "blame game": "I'm this way because my parents..."; "I do that because this one time in elementary school..."; "I'll never get anywhere because they told me I couldn't..." There's a certain point in our lives where we need to take ownership for who we are and what we do. The good and the bad. A point when we leave everything behind (as best we can) and move forward. Always moving forward. Taking the good, stepping over the bad, and doing our own thing.
Joel and I come from amazing families (and when I say that I actually mean it). They've all taught us so much and helped us build our foundations both as individuals and as a couple. They've given us the tools to construct our own values and figure out how those values fit in to our own little family.
We get to pick and choose what's important to us. Joel may have observed one thing in his family, I may have observed something different in mine, but we have the choice to select what works best for our family. This allows us to move forward with confidence and binds us closer together as we determine what truly is important to us as a family unit.
What a special privilege to have! I can't describe the feelings this realization gives me. Comfort. Pride. LOVE. Among many others. It definitely feels like a next step. Another milestone reached in our marriage and our family. The creation of a set of values that we'll continue to instill in ourselves and our family as it grows.
I'm so excited to find out what "In our family we..." develops into over time. You better believe I'm writing everything down!
Being married is my absolute favorite thing in this world.
I'm able to say this with such confidence because my "other half," simply put, rules. He is the most perfect person for me and we continue to grow together in such wonderful ways.
There are many things about our relationship that make us "work" - but here are a few basic elements that seem to get us through everything:
I wish you the best of luck in your relationship. Find your own way and acknowledge the things that are working well. Whether you're in a new partnership, a rekindled relationship, or have been together for a long time - no matter what - love is truly a beautiful thing!