Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's a Boy!

We finally had our ultrasound today (the hospital inexplicably refused to schedule me until I was over 19 weeks this time around), and got to see our healthy new baby boy.  Sly is pretty excited.  He's been saying he hopes the baby is "a brother, because I already have a sister."  Makes sense to me.

My intuition had been telling me it was a girl.  Of course, I was wrong for Stella too, so I guess I just have a bad sense for baby gender!  It took a few minutes for it to sink in that we have another boy instead.  Also, I feel like no mothers ever admit this, but I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: I *wanted* it to be another girl.

Not that I'm not going to love this baby just as much as my others, because that's just how it works.  And once he's born and the whole family is together, I'll know that of course he should have been just who he is.
But I've always had the sense that I would relate better with daughters than with sons, and I have a premonition that - following the footsteps of every other woman in my entire extended family - I will end up with many more sons than daughters.  And I think that concerns me a little.  Ah, well.  "Boys are easier" anyways, so people keep telling me.

The baby is healthy, so I am more than happy.

We do have a name picked out, chosen before Sly was even born as the name for a "future second son."  It was my choice, and Tom wasn't crazy about it at first.  But I insisted that since he essentially chose Sylvester - a name it took me a long time to not hate! - for our first son, that it was my turn to choose for the next (there was actually a really cool tradition in his family that basically demanded that we give him that name.  And who am I to break an eight-generation tradition?).  We haven't really discussed whether we're sharing that name until the birth, though, so I'd better just keep quiet for now.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A New Blog Name for "Our Ordinary Life"

So due to someone else getting a trademark on my old name, Our Ordinary Life, I need to choose something new.  Tom keeps joking that I should rename it "Our Not Extraordinary Life." :-P

I'll admit, I was never crazy about the name of my blog.  It was fairly generic-sounding, and I wasn't sure if it really got across the message I wanted it to.

As I discuss in my very first post about why I decided to start blogging, I know that there are many graces to be had if I learn to just embrace my littleness, and my "ordinary-ness."  I think of myself as sort of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none [what is the female equivalent of a "jack"?  Surely something rather uncomplimentary].  I dabble in various crafts, I can cook decently well, I can pick out a simple song on the piano, but I don't have a particular talent for any of those pursuits.  We will never have a lot of money or go on exciting vacations or have prestigious careers.  We'll probably never be famous or known outside our circle of acquaintances, and this blog will never grow to have much popularity, because I'm just not interested in promoting it.  God willing, I will spend the foreseeable future as "just" a housewife and mother.  Our lives are nothing extraordinary.

And you know what - that's all perfectly fine.  While our lives may seem very common, I know that what my husband and I are doing is actually so important.  Making a home.  Raising children to know and love God.  Creating and restoring valuable traditions.  Learning, growing, and loving together.  Trying to live each day the best we can.

So, welcome my lovely readers, to the same blog but with an updated title/tagline!


I have no header image at the moment, because I need to wait for Tom to help me make a new one later.  We don't have Photoshop or anything similar, and doing it on Paint always makes me want to punch something.  Or...I am just inept with computers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Having a Cold is NOT Being Sick!!

This post might stir up some minor controversy, but I just gotta get it out there.

A few common scenarios I run into:
- Someone posts on Facebook about how sick and yucky they feel, and their intentions to stay home in bed  all day.  A bunch of people write sympathetic comments, "get well soons", and ask what's wrong.  Then it comes out that the person just has a bad cough or something.
- I'm all set for a playdate with another mom when she contacts me an hour before to say that Little Johnny has a cold, so they're going to stay home.
SERIOUSLY?  Having a cold is not fun, but it's really not a big deal!  If people want to bring their kids over with a cold, I don't care in the slightest.  If my kids or myself happen to catch it, so be it.  We'll deal with it, and it will just increase our immunity for next time.  (I might answer differently if I had a brand-new baby in the house, but I'm not sure).

My definition of being sick (and I'm talking here only about "infection"-type sicknesses, not something like cancer, mental illnesses, etc.) is something that incapacitates you to some extent.  That makes you unable to carry out all your normal activities.  So, having a fever - definitely sick.  You feel like crap, and you're basically only good for lying around all day, with maybe an occasional dash to the bathroom.  A headache (especially a migraine!) or a stomachache is also "being sick" - the pain is usually so distracting that you can't move around much or concentrate on anything as well as usual.  You too should probably just lie down for a while and get yourself better.

But having a cold?  Sure, it's unpleasant.  But even with a really nasty cold - where your nose is so stuffed you can hardly breathe, your sinuses are swollen, you have a sore throat or hacking least in my experience, doesn't prevent me from getting anything done.  It's just annoying.  I can still clean the house, concentrate on a task, etc. I would never say I was "sick."

I understand that if you have something really nasty, you might like to stay away from other people as a courtesy.  I guess I appreciate the concern, but really - most of the time, I'd rather have your company and risk catching your cold.  I get colds every year - especially during the winter months - and I just suffer through them, and get on with my life, and I expect my kids to do the same.  They won't get any special treatment for a cold...except maybe some nose-sucks with this awesome device: Nosefrida.

Some of this attitude was probably picked up from my dad.  When I was in school, I had perfect attendance almost every year, because he was very particular about what constituted "sick enough to stay home."  We pretty much had to have a fever, or something that we would take pills for.  Also, I honestly didn't even know that "cold medicines" existed until college.  We never used them in our house - we were just expected to deal with the symptoms, and let them go away on their own.

On a related note, I'm not a germophobe at all.  I think getting little colds from time to time is probably a good thing, and helps keep your immune system working.  We do get colds, but my kids and I basically never get sick (by my definition). 

 I really don't wash my hands that much - only when I feel they need it.  I know you all think I'm gross now.  (But hey, I wash dishes which seems like about ten times a day, so my hands are getting clean then, at least.)  I rarely make my kids wash their hands either - with soap, I mean.  They get a necessary hand-rinse after most meals. 

My kids and I taste batter with raw eggs in it, which I don't really worry about.  But I am good about keeping things clean and washed when raw meat is involved, especially chicken because - yuck!

My kids do eat certain foods off the floor, and I think it's fine.  It would likely be a better parenting tactic to just have a clear "no eating food off the floor" rule, because Sly often has to ask me, "Mommy, can I eat this off the floor?"  But here's the thing.  If an Oreo falls on the kitchen floor, and the kid picks it right up, it's totally fine in my book.  If the same Oreo fell in the dirt on the playground?  No, leave that there, kid!  If cheese falls on the ground anywhere, it's gotta go in the trash.  It really depends on the type of food and the location.  Don't most of us adults eat something that fell on the floor from time to time?

Anyways, don't feel like you need to hide your cold germs away from my family.  We can deal with them!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our Etsy Shop!

I'm happy to finally announce that our Etsy shop is open and running! 

The Thrift Stop

I was shocked to see that two items (fedora hats) sold within the first 15 minutes of opening!  That's great news, but makes us wonder if we undercharged for them.  Also, I hope the pace of sales doesn't become too crazy, because I wasn't planning for this to be a full-time job!

Exciting stuff, though.  Go check it out!  I'm open to any comments or suggestions, just try to be kind :-)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Catholic Mom Discussion Groups

As I've mentioned before, I'm part of a group in my city specifically for Catholic moms.  It's been such a blessing to me the past few years to be able to get to know other Catholic women and their kids, and to have the opportunity to get out of the house (with or without the kids), share ideas, and develop friendships.

One thing I started doing with the group a couple months ago is holding a regular discussion group - one evening a month, moms only (plus any nursing babes) - to hash out important and interesting issues.  In the first one, we discussed modesty.  The second one was on "How to raise good Catholic children."  Both discussions produced some surprisingly fruitful discussion, and were quite enjoyable to engage in.

Anyways, I was thinking there might be women in other cities who would enjoy having similar types of discussions - you know, with real people in person, not just over the internet.  For that reason, I thought I would share with you my initial outline for our upcoming November discussion: Keeping Advent and Christmas Holy.

I hope a few of you might be able to use this - to pick a date, gather a few mom friends, get some snacks and drinks together, and have a great discussion.  If you plan to try it out, leave a comment with your e-mail address (or send me a private e-mail) so I can send you the print-outs I'm going to throw together for each attendee (after I complete them).

[Also, if anyone would like my outlines on the previous two topics (Modesty or Raising Good Catholic Children), let me know that too, and I'll be happy to send them.]

(This was on the event page for November's discussion)

Keeping Advent and Christmas Holy
I would love to bring a group of us together for some honest discussion about this very important topic.  I don’t have a prepared talk – just an outline for group discussion.  The strength of this is that everyone can bring their own perspective to the table, and hopefully learn something new.  Nursing babies welcome :-)

Also, please consider *bringing* anything you might want to show to the other moms, especially books!
You don’t need to read or prepare for this discussion, but it would be helpful to get yourself pondering the topic for a little while before we meet.  Here are some questions we will discuss:

  •   What character should a holy Advent have?
  •    How can we keep our celebration of Advent distinct from Christmas, and appropriate to the season?
  •    Do you do anything in your family to “ease into” Christmas?
  •    Can you recommend any special sacrifices or good works that are appropriate for Advent?
  •   What specific Advent devotions have worked in your family (Advent wreath, Jesse tree, nativity sets, O Antiphons, etc.)?
  • What books, crafts, or other resources can you recommend for helping children celebrate and understand Advent and Christmas?
  •  How do you handle the Santa legend in your family?  Is Santa the same as St. Nicholas [feast day: Dec. 6th]?  Is it possible in this society to “not do the Santa thing”?
  •   How can we teach our children that Christmas is about Christ’s coming, rather than presents, parties, etc.?
  •   How can we resist the commercialism and consumerism of the modern American Christmas (or “winter holiday” as it’s called these days)?
  •  Traditionally, the Christmas season starts on Christmas Eve.  How can we spend this important evening, and make it special?
  •  Speaking hypothetically: if you had no obligations to extended family or the culture at large, how would you like to see your family observe Christmas Eve and Christmas day together?
  • What are some ethnic traditions (from your own family, or ones you have heard of) for celebrating Advent or Christmas?
  •  How could we extend the celebration of Christmas to encompass all “twelve days” of Christmas or beyond (until Candlemas, Feb. 2nd)?

Some extra reading that might be of interest:

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 33)


A blog-friend recently shared a link to a great post over at a blog for my mom about "Mom Style."

I can totally get behind everything Rosie says in this post.  I've long believed that moms can be comfortable and practical while wearing clothes that are classier than sweatpants/yoga pants and a t-shirt.  I love that she includes a number of photos to show you what she's talking about. 

A few passages that really resonated with me:

"Take stock of how your bones have moved - if it's just fat stores that are preventing certain clothing items from fitting and you can't bear to part from them, stick them in the back of the closet and try them on again in a few months.  But if your ribcage has expanded as much as mine has, you're going to have to face it:

There are some dresses you have that will never zip again.  And you don't need to keep them."
So unfortunate, but so true!  Last year, I finally accepted that most of my zipper-back dresses would just never be able to fit again, and finally gave them away.  Now, I look for dresses made of stretchy fabrics without zippers that I know will fit me.

"Does it work for early pregnancy AND the post-partum stage?  Can you wear it all the way through a pregnancy?  Or will it only fit for those 6 weeks when I've lost all the pregnancy weight but haven't gotten pregnant again?"

This is another truth I've only recently learned.  I've been in transitional stages myself for almost the past four years (pregnant, post-partum before losing the baby belly, nursing, very brief window of "normal belly and not nursing").  It's just not practical to have three or four separate wardrobes to work for me during all these stages, and I still hope to have more babies down the road. 

Everything new I've purchased (well, "new to me" since I almost only buy used clothes these days) has been with these questions in mind: Will it still work for early pregnancy, before I need maternity clothes?  Will it fit post-partum when I still have a belly?  Is it loose and unfussy enough for discreet nursing?  There are a lot of tops that can meet all these criteria - mostly of the "flowy" or slightly looser variety [I hate layering, so look for a one-garment solution rather than having to combine and dirty several items in order to acheive practicality and modesty].  I tend to like the peasant top look, and these can work well for a lot of stages. 


A friend recently had a sweet baby boy.  We went to visit them a few days ago, and he was just so tiny and new.  Suddenly, I'm so aware of how huge Stella has gotten.  She's barely a baby anymore!  I'm glad I have another on the way already, because I would be feeling major baby fever right now.

big girl!

I've been making a conscious effort to pay more attention to her recently (aww, my poor second child).  Sly tends to hog the spotlight with his bombastic personality and his ability to have real conversations.  I realized that at the same age, we were doing a lot more "stuff" with Sly that we just haven't really been doing with Stella...such as reading  *baby appropriate* books, or having conversations with her even though she'll just respond with smiles and noises.  I've noticed that she is much happier now and also learning things more quickly.  Oh man, I sound like a terrible mom!


Tom has a potential job opportunity that is going to require some major deliberation.
Immediate pros: He'd be working for a good Catholic employer at a "company" which promotes the Faith, and it pays significantly better than his current position. 
Immediate cons: Tom would have an hour+ commute each way (!), we'd need to own two cars, and the hours - at least initially - are not as family friendly (he'd be home in the mornings, but gone the rest of the day, including dinnertime and kids' bedtime.  Also, the schedule is not M-F, but changes).

Many things to consider and pray about!


The kids and I were making necklaces with wooden beads, and I pointed out a teal bead and said, "this is Mommy's favorite color."  When Sly finished his necklace, he said he wanted to make one for me, which I thought was sweet.  I had to run upstairs for something, and when I came back, I saw this:

He used all teal beads for my necklace!  This probably seems like no big deal, but it is the first time he's ever done something thoughtful like this totally unprompted.  And simultaneously, it's probably the most "artistic" creation he's ever made on his own (since it has symmetry).  That boy is so far not gifted in the art department.  haha.  But we'll keep doing crafts!


As an example of Sly's typical 3-year-old inability to consider other people's likes and desires over his own, consider this conversation from earlier.

Me: "Sly, what should we get Daddy for his birthday?"
Sly: "A toy dinosaur.  And a puzzle.  And a toy guitar."

haha....I wonder who would benefit from those gifts?


And because I'm running out of ideas for these Quick Takes, more Sly quotes from the past week!

Sly: "I'm still hungry. What are we gonna do about that?"

I heard Stella start to cry, and Sly say to her: "It's ok, Stella. I was just being a gnome."
Me: "Sly...did you hurt her?"
Sly [matter-of-factly]: "Yeah. With my gnome teeth!"

I told Sly that he got his big head from Daddy. He walked over to Tom and said, "Daddy, thank you for sharing your big head with me."


My mom had a pair of maternity tights sent to me in the mail (yay!), and it came with two free "$20 credit" codes for Shutterfly - I think they made a mistake by putting in two....heck yeah!  Christmas presents for the I come!

Quick Takes are hosted at Conversion Diary

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 32)

 Firstly, I'd just like to ask people to say a prayer for Abigail who recently lost a baby to miscarriage. 

I started my first-ever quilt a week ago, and I have to say, it's coming along pretty well.  Here's a sneak peek:

 I feel like I'm getting myself into a number of crafts all at once here, which I hope isn't a mistake.  I joined Karen's (2nd) Jesse Tree ornament swap.  I'm pretty excited about it, because I've been wanting to try this Advent tradition in our family at some point.  I figure that at three years old, Sly might be old enough to kind of understand it now.  I just have to make one type of ornament (however, 28 copies of it!), mail them to Karen, and I'll get a full set back in the mail.  I chose to do the "Mary" ornament, who's symbol for the Jesse Tree is - among other possibilities - a heart.  I will admit, I chose that one mostly because it seemed the most do-able, given my limited creative abilities!

Besides the quilt and the ornament, I'm still working on knitting a pair of mittens for Tom.  I started them last winter as part of a "knit along" with a couple of friends.  They both finished theirs very quickly, and I'm....still working on mine.  

Once they are finished, I will knit a blanket for the new baby.  I made one for both Sly and Stella while I was pregnant with them, and long ago determined that this would be a tradition of mine for each baby.  Unfortunately, it occurred to me recently that I don't really enjoy knitting much anymore.  I like the products of my knitting, but the experience is usually painful for my wrist (I don't have the proper form, and the bad habit is ten-years engrained, so I don't see it changing), and frustrating since I always make stupid mistakes.  I feel like I've gotten as good as I'm gonna get, so it's hard to want to keep doing it.

I've been thinking recently that maybe, possibly, this year...we'll just kinda dispense with the whole "Santa" thing at Christmastime.  Not that I have a problem with Santa.  But I just think the reality of Christmas, and the excitement of the coming of the Christ Child could be even better and more thrilling without the secular aspects of Christmas, if we do it right.  I'm still trying to figure out how to really pull it off.  I'll probably write another post on this closer to Christmas, but in the meanwhile, if anyone has done this with their family, I'd love some feedback!

The other day at the store, a lady said to Stella: "I like your patent leather shoes."
Sly, always quick to defend his sister, responded: "They are NOT cat litter shoes!"

Stella loves cats, and the cats...well, tolerate her.  Sly was always rough with them, even as a baby.  Stella just wants to pet them and bury her face in their sides.  Our cat Lance[lot] sleeps with her every naptime now.  So cute.

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Opening a Shop

Tom and I are going to open an Etsy shop!  We've been toying with the idea for ages now, since we both like the idea of having a fun little side project, and because we could always use a small (emphasis on small, because we don't expect much) extra source of income.  But neither of us are super artistic, and we just never came up with a craft idea that seemed like something other people would be interested in.

Over the weekend, it finally occurred to us that we should just stick with our real strength: secondhand and vintage stuff!  We already go to thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, etc. all the time - simply because we love them so much.  And we've been told quite a few times that we have a good eye for secondhand things, and a knack at scoring deals.  So this seems like a good fit for us.  We'll already be out thrifting anyways - might as well pick up a few extra things that someone else might be interested in.

My only real concern is that neither of us are very "enterprising" or business-oriented.  I hope we don't lose the motivation.  As long as we continue to think of this as something fun for us to do together, we should probably be alright.

Some of the prices people are charging on Etsy for vintage things seem pretty ridiculous.  Or maybe they really cost that much in other cities?  At any rate, I figure we can charge a better price on some of our items, and hopefully get more customers that way.  I just hope there are people out there who love cool vintage treasures as much as we do!

I've asked a couple friends who have Etsy-selling experience, and their suggestions were:
1. Take really nice photos [err...I'll try my best]
2. Write creative descriptions for each product
3. Put some work into the look and feel of the "shop"

If anyone else has advice, I'm happy to hear it!

We still need to gather a few more items, and get some good photos of everything, but we're feeling pretty excited to get started and see how this goes.  I'll post a link to our shop once it's up and running.

As an afterthought, I want to mention another potential problem with this whole venture: falling in love with the things we pick up, and deciding to keep them!  This morning, I dressed both the kids in some of the vintage kids' stuff from the "shop stash" so I could get pictures of the items on my little models.  Stella looked so adorable in her little knit sweater, that I decided to just leave it on her for the day, and make it our own :-D

Friday, October 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 31)

Joining in the action, as I only do about once a month...

 Easter lily in October!

We got a lily last Easter to decorate the dinner table.  After it had finished blooming, I moved it to the front porch to join our other potted plants, since the leaves were still nice and green.  Over the summer, the original plant slowly died, but it left some babies behind in the pot.  One of those babies has gotten huge (it must be at least 2 feet tall!), and just the other day, decided to bloom!  It's back on the dinner table, since the nights have been getting chilly.  It's so strange to see and smell a flower that I so much associate with spring.

I whipped up a batch of this homemade pumpkin cream for my coffee the other day.  Once I realized last year that most store-bought "creams" were really just flavored corn syrup, I've been trying to stick with regular old half-and-half and sugar for my coffee (I don't have an issue with corn syrup per se, but I prefer the real stuff!) .

If it looks kinda like Caesar dressing here, that's only the salad dressing bottle fooling you!

Here's the amended version I used - none of which was organic as in the original recipe:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3+ tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice + extra cinnamon
4 tablespoons Maple Syrup Corn syrup [ok, so I still used corn syrup.  I just hate maple flavor]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk milk, cream, pumpkin, syrup, and pumpkin spice together over medium heat. When it gets steamy remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Use a strainer to transfer the cream into a jar or pitcher [removes a lot of the excess spices]. Let it cool down and chill it the refrigerator. 

I realized after the fact that I probably could have avoided buying whipping cream, and just used *two* cups of half-and-half, since that's exactly what I ended up making by mixing cream and milk.  Duh.  Oh, well.  Also, I suggest mixing up your own pumpkin pie spice (look up recipes online), since it's way cheaper than buying it.  The pumpkin cream was pretty tasty, but not as sweet as the store-bought ones.  I still added a little bit of sugar to my coffee to make it nice and unhealthy :-)

My cousins are teaching me to quilt!  I ended up going the expensive route and buying a "jellyroll" of pre-matched fabric for the first time around.  I just don't have a stash of spare fabric built up yet, and I really don't know what I'm doing.   I'm going to make a quilt for Stella, since Sly already has one that a friend gave him for his baptism.  I picked what I'm hoping is a simple pattern: Pandora's box.  Pretty, right?

Quick question for other parents: I think Sly has reached the minimum weight/height to be moved up to a booster seat in the car.  Are there any advantages to using one now, or should we just keep him in the convertible car seat until another kid needs it?

EDIT: I since found out that it's considered safer to leave them in the 5-point harness until they are 4 years old (and in some States, illegal not to).  But I don't have another Quick Take to take this one's place, so I'm leaving it.  ha!

I was all gung ho [spellcheck isn't liking that expression] about celebrating the liturgical year in July.  But with the exception of The Assumption in August, I've been pretty bad about sticking with it ever since.  There were two special Masses (one in the new rite on Oct. 1st, and one Latin Mass on Oct. 3rd) for St. Therese that I was hoping to get to this week, but things came up both evenings that prevented us.  The best I've managed to do is tell Sly on a few occasions, "Do you know what feast day is today?!"  and then asking him again before bed if he remembered.  Ugh.  

I think I need to go re-read Around the Year with the Trapp family and The Year & Our Children for inspiration.

I went to a children's consignment store to try to find some black dress shoes for Sly.  They didn't have any, but I was suckered into picking up winter boots for both kids.  Stella can't even walk yet (13 months and growing!  Come on, little girl!), so it's hard to picture her really playing in the snow in a few months...but they were cute, and only $1.50.  I couldn't resist!

I've been asking other moms I know - who have been pregnant during the winter - how they dressed for the cold weather while pregnant.  Both my kids were born in August, so all my current maternity clothes are designed for very hot weather.  Most of the women have given me the response "I was so hot even during the winter that I just wore short sleeves the whole time - you should be fine with what you have."  Forgive me for my skepticism, but I know that I am one of those people who is always freezing in the winter even when everyone around her feels that the temperature is pleasant.  I do expect I'll have to supplement my maternity wardrobe to some extent.

I looked through my winter tops, and unfortunately, they're mostly tight-fitting things like turtlenecks or fitted sweaters.  I don't think any of them will work for me very long at all.  Another issue is that my standard winter "bottoms" are a long skirt with thick tights underneath.  I *might* have enough elastic-waisted skirts to scrape by....but I know my tights won't be fitting anymore with the big belly.  Maternity tights cost $20 a pair, which is out of our price range....maybe I should just wear sweat pants under my skirts all winter, and tuck them into boots when I go out of the house so no one knows!

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Expressing Romance to Your Spouse

Tom was feeling sick this morning, but decided to go into work anyways.  When I finally rolled out of bed and got the kids down to the kitchen (oh, about 10am....I know, it's bad), I texted him to ask how he was feeling.

Tom: "Tired, weak, and sluggish, but other wise fine.  Thanks you for asking, asking makes me feel a little better already ;)"
Me: "That previous comment didn't sound like you at MUST be sick!"

Not that I necessarily want my husband to be that sappy with me all the time, but a little sweet comment here and there surely wouldn't hurt.  I feel like he was much sappier with me while we were dating.  I know that things change, and definitely our love is deeper and more tested now after several years of marriage.  But it would be nice to see that love-struck look in his eyes every now and then.  To hear him say how much he loves some little thing about me.

Sometimes I ask him to be more romantic towards me, and he has no clue what it is I want.  He asks me for examples, but I feel like that just defeats the purpose.  Romantic gestures, to me, means doing something sweet and unprompted for the one you love. 
We realized long ago that we have different "love languages" [take the quiz, if you haven't already - It can be very enlightening!], and this is probably part of the problem.  Because I have to constantly remind myself that, "Hey, when Tom scooped the cat litter after dinner, he was letting me know that he loved me...even though to me, it just seemed like a chore he should be doing anyways." And he has to constantly remind himself, "Hey, if I want to make my wife feel loved, I should actually sit next to her while we watch this movie instead of on the other side of the room where I'd be more comfortable." 

After the "butterflies" of the early days of a relationship start to fade away, you realize that love really is, as they say, "an act of the will."  It is choosing to put the other's good ahead of your own.  Maybe during this phase, romantic gestures don't just happen spontaneously anymore either.  I know when we were dating, I would very often scratch Tom's head for him, just because I knew he liked it.  Now I never do.  I used to not have to think about it - I just wanted so much to be close to him and make him happy.  Maybe romance becomes an act of the will as well.  Maybe you have to go about them much more consciously than in the past.

Of course...if one spouse started doing this regularly, I would think it could stir up some of those old lovely "feelings" (feelings aren't love, but they can make love easier) in the other.  And then maybe the romantic gestures would be reciprocated, without having to think about it.

Can romantic gestures generate deeper love between spouses?  Maybe.  At the least, they could probably lessen friction and misunderstandings.  So it's something to work at.

Has anyone tried to do this consciously in their marriage?  Any tips?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Trying to Be Satisfied Where We Are

I've avoided saying anything on the blog until we had a better idea of where things were going, but the past couple weeks, Tom and I became fairly immersed in the world of house-hunting.  It all started when Tom found that great-looking little place online.  We kept thinking how ideal it might be for our family, and eventually figured it couldn't hurt to contact a realtor and get a look inside.  That place ended up not striking us the way we expected.  Actually, Tom was still pushing for it, but I just couldn't picture us living there.  It wasn't right.  Since we had the realtor out for the evening, we asked her to take us to a second nearby house we had noticed online - a gorgeous 113 year-old Victorian which we didn't honestly expect to be able to buy, but just wanted to peek inside. 
And oh man, did that place do us in.  We were completely in love.  It was in many ways, a dream house for us both.  We're both total suckers for old houses, and the more charming little features the better.  This place had it all: lots of stained glass, four (working!) fireplaces, moulding, carved banister, built-ins, French doors between all the rooms, a storage window seat under a big window, a flat bedrooms!  We could tell it needed some work (and some tearing out of ugly wallpaper), which didn't scare us, and it was being sold for significantly less than it's value. 
We were Mary from It's a Wonderful Life, head-over-heels for a big old house that was nothing but a money pit

We still didn't want to let ourselves hope it could ever be ours.  This is the sort of place we always fantasized that we could *maybe* end up in eventually...but never as a first home.  But we mentioned it to our parents, and I feel like things just took off from there.  Before we knew it, we had an offers of gifts/loans from the parents to help with the downpayment and a pre-approval for a mortgage from a bank (one which doesn't require the entire downpayment to come from the buyers themselves!).  For a moment there, it looked like we might actually possibly be able to own this amazing house. 

But then the realtor brought us through the house again, this time in the daylight when we could see the flaws more easily....and with a contractor.  Now, Tom and I are both willing to do a lot of fix-ups ourselves in a future home.  But there are only so many things we have the ability to do.  The contractor pointed out so many things that would need to be repaired - many of them as soon as possible - which we just aren't capable of doing ourselves (mold removal, re-bricking the chimney, etc.).  And he gave us estimates for each job, "You're looking at $15,000-$20,000 for this", "Probably $20,000 for that"...Oh my.  It's a shame.  I wonder who will buy that house.  It has the potential to be absolutely stunning, but it needs a lot of money to get there.
Yes, the rest of the house is in shambles, and you can't even get upstairs because the stairway fell down...but isn't this one corner so cozy and nice?

After that, though, it was easy to let go.  It reminds me of one of those shows on HGTV...I think it's Property Brothers?  The realtor always takes the couple to their absolute dream house first, and then when they see the price tag, it knocks them back to reality.  Then they can start looking at more realistic places.  I guess that's what we'll need to do as well.

Tom thinks we need to "cool it" for a while on the search for a house.  Reluctantly, I'll try to do that.  But I think my nesting instincts are making me long to be settled in a place of our own before the baby comes at the end of March.  Our current place works.  We have enough room.  Sigh. 

Mary Bailey fixing up the dream house
In the meanwhile, I want to try to focus on improving things that we can while we're renters - re-covering our filthy dining room chairs, for example, or fixing the terrible job I did painting the kitchen table.  That way, when we are ready to buy a place, we can put all our attention on improving the house rather than worrying about our furniture as well.