There are no children at my house, not that I need any, my hubby, Andy is a big kid himself. Believe me when I tell you, the only difference is the cost of his toys.
We never had children together, I never felt bad about that. I have a beautiful step-daughter I am proud to say I know and love. She is an amazing young woman.
Andy and I love children, and relate to them because we function on their level. 🙂 The kids think we are great fun. I have had tea parties, colored, made friendship bracelets, built forts with sheets, played games, you name it. Andy loves to play video games, play pull my finger and burp letters of the alphabet, great boy stuff. We both watch cartoons. We once had a little boy turn around in the theater at a Disney movie and ask where our kids were? We have never lost our childish nature, and I think that is a good thing.
But, sometimes I think our friends, the parents, worry when we come to visit.
Please don’t, I think I finally have him trained…somewhat, and here’s how I did it.
At times, Andy is the Duke of Inappropriate Conversation. He has gotten better over the years but still sometimes there is no buffer between his brain and his mouth. When you don’t have children around all the time, you get used to saying exactly what’s on your mind at any given moment. That has always been one of my favorite parts of our marriage. We can truly be ourselves around each other. However, once you step into someone else’s world, at the very least you want to appear civilized.
When we were younger there were so many times a parent had to say, “Andy, the kids.” Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect, I can lose my filter too, especially if I feel safe with people.
Several years back we went to visit friends in Virginia. I reminded Andy, two weeks earlier he had offended another of our friends by saying or doing something goofy that was not intended for children’s ears. I did not wish to repeat that event. I told him that when he had a quick comeback to what someone said he needed to stall his quick response. I suggested that when the urge to utter something he thought was witty, that he count to ten slowly and think about who was in the room.
Five minutes after our arrival in Virginia, someone said something and I immediately saw the look on Andy’s face and he began to count out-loud, 1, 2, 3, 4… you get the picture. I couldn’t help but laugh and our friends asked, “what is he doing?”
I told them about my idea to make Andy aware of his surroundings. They began to laugh too.
Well, as the weekend progressed, Andy had to count many, many times, and soon the kids were in on it. As soon as someone would say something, the kids would look at Andy and begin to count. It was priceless. As soon as Andy began to count all the adults could guess the direction his thoughts and would begin to laugh. So he never had to actually say the comment out loud.
My friend said she was going to make it a family rule and apply it to both her brothers and her brothers-in-law. It seems that Andy is not the only “Duke of Inappropriate Conversation” out there.
I think everyone had a great time with the count. If you have a “Duke of Inappropriate Conversation” in your life, don’t get discouraged. Suggest they count. It could be fun. I recommend to ten, but if they are really bad, you may want to consider more. Just be sure you do it with a smile.
I love cartoons and puppets. I always have. Maybe it comes from my love art, drawing, and doodling or from growing up on Sesame Street, but cartoons and puppets have always made me smile. On a dreary day or when I’m in a bad mood nothing can lift my spirits and bring me out of the dark places like an episode of the Muppets, Despicable Me, Minions, or old episodes of Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs or just good ole’ Looney Tunes.
I have always been a bit of a toon myself. Over the years, many of my friends have said so. Andy, my hubby, agrees with the statement too, he even thinks I’m part Muppet. He says he can tell when I’m really mad because I get “Muppet lips.” Except for Janice on the Muppets, they don’t have lips. So, I guess that means my lips disappear. He knows I can’t stay mad when he tells me I have “Muppet lips.” I can’t seem to keep myself from laughing when he says it.
I am blessed that I have a husband that loves cartoons as much as I do. There have been many times when Andy and I were the only adults in the theater without children with us. We even had one little boy, barely able to see over the seat, turn around and say, “Where are your kids? What are you doing here?” He just couldn’t wrap his little mind around the fact that we were there to see the movie with just as much excitement as he had. Often times when asked what the last movie we saw together was, we received a strange look when Andy and I both name whatever the last cartoon released on the big screen.
It wasn’t until we moved with the Army to Germany in the late 90s that I realized I wasn’t the only toon in the family. Most people don’t see it, but my husband is quite the toon himself. If you have never met my husband, here is the visual… Andy is 6 feet tall and weighs about a buck forty-five soaking wet. He is lean and mean and still wears the same clothes he had in high school. He wears his hair Army short. He never wears anything but cowboy boots and jeans. His idea of dressing up is a big silver belt buckle and a western shirt to go along with the boots and jeans. He tops it all off with a straw cowboy hat. I fell in love with the guy in that cowboy hat.
One afternoon we made our way across post housing in Bad Kreuznach, Germany where we lived at the time, to barbecue with friends. As we walked closer to the playground where the barbecue area was, our friends 4-year-old son yells across the play ground in a crystal clear voice, “Woody!”
At that time, “Toy Story” was the latest Disney movie and 4-year-old Shane, thought Andy was the cartoon character come-to-life. Well, from that moment on every kid in the neighborhood and most of the adults called him “Woody.” Sometimes, I still do. I even have a little Woody figurine that sits on my computer desk at work to remind me of the toon that I love the most.
Shane is all grown now, and probably doesn’t even remember “Woody” but we will never forget that adorable little 4-year-old and the cartoon legacy he left with Andy.
Are you a toon? Maybe you just need to let your inner toon free. Trust me, it will make you smile, even if you don’t want to. If you could be a toon, which one would it be?
I recently read that experience without sharing leaves no room for growth. Instead, bad experiences turned inward make you bitter and isolated. Wow! Been there, done that, brought home a whole crate of T-shirts. So here I am opening myself up, exposing the dark.
I will be honest, sometimes I have an ungrateful heart. I think at one time or another we tend to want things now, instead of later. We ask, “why me?” or “will this ever end?” I know that I can end up in a big ole’ pity pool, wallowing in it, and never looking to the future. Sometimes I have to look at where I have been to appreciate what I have now.
It is no secret that everyone has to suffer through hard times and dark periods in their lives. I have often heard it said, “It is not the situation, but how you handle the situation that matters.” I suppose that is true to some extent, but what about those situations that you don’t handle with grace?
In those times when you don’t make the best decisions, you end up on the wrong side of things but somehow you make it out alive. Do you hold on to that shame and hurt, hoping no one will ever see the dark that lives inside you? Are you bitterly ashamed of your past and pray no one will ever know the true you?
I am certainly no stranger to dark times. As a matter of fact, if you had asked me 25 years ago where I would be now, my answer would have been, “Dead.” After the death of my young husband when I was 19, I descended down a dark and treacherous path.
You see, I had convinced myself that it was my fault, and I felt like those closest to me blamed me and hated me for his death. Beyond that, I convinced myself I didn’t deserve anything or anyone good in my life. I sought out dangerous people and compromising situations. I dated all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. I just couldn’t buy into the premise that I was worth it, so I treated nice guys horribly and kicked them to the curb. Being abused, became my normal because I thought I deserved it.
I battled with my worth and my past for ten years. It haunted me. More than once, it almost killed me. I felt alone, isolated and scared of the person I had become.
I didn’t have the strength to walk away from the things that had beaten me down. It took a series of unfortunate circumstances (isn’t that always the case) for me to seek a counselor. Many see counseling as a sign of weakness. I see it as the strongest moment of my life. It’s where I began to see past the darkness.
I had spent so much time railing at God. Screaming. Crying. Why? Why? Why? For me, coming back to a faith I had lost, saved me physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Everyone wants the quick fix. There isn’t one; there is no pill, no magic bean, no physical interaction that can take away the pain you try to hide, medicate, or abuse out of view. Counseling takes time and work, hard work. Faith takes believing. God never said life would be easy. He never said bad things wouldn’t happen. By surviving your worst situation, you can encourage someone else. But God can’t use your story unless you are willing to tell it.
To look back on my past now, I am grateful, not only for where I am now, but that I made it through. I may not have the nicest house, or drive a new car, but I have riches beyond gold and silver. He told me that I am beautifully and wonderfully made and that He loves me in spite of myself.
Isaiah 61:3 (KJV) says this:
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified.
God gave me beauty from the ashes of my life and gave me joy for my mourning. I exchanged my heavy heart for a garment of praise.
I am no expert and I can’t wave a magic wand and fix problems. If you are hurting, I strongly suggest finding a Christian counselor, someone who won’t try to fix you with a pill. Find someone who will listen and lead you on the right path. Know that you are NEVER alone, God always walks with you, even in the dark times.
Now you know a little about one my darkest times and how it has made me grateful for the light. So, will my journey into dark places help you? I hope it does.
If not, that’s ok too. I’ve given you a bit of my story, I pray God will now use it.
Looking back makes you appreciate where you are now. This blog post, originally written in April of 2011, makes me thankful for change. My life has changed so much since this post some good, some great and some challenging, but I see every change as an opportunity to grow.
The question is, how do YOU ride on this roller coaster of life? Do you scream, and close your eyes, or do you throw your hands up and laugh?
Well, I must apologize for being slack in my blogging for the past few months. The only excuse I can give is life. It seems that lately I have had an over-abundance of life coming at me from all directions. I know I am not the only person in the world that feels this way. But sometimes, don’t you just want to scream? “Hey, slow this planet down, I want to get off now!” As if life were a ride at an amusement park, and you had too much funnel cake for your own good.
This week life has been just like that. A roller coaster of ups and downs so severe they take your breath away and knock you back in your seat. My work life is always hectic, but when our office manager quit, work became more intense. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, I get the opportunity to organize, be creative and bring our marketing into the 21st century, but when you work for a small company, you wear too many hats and sometimes it can be overwhelming.
If my work were the only part of the equation, the stress would feel more manageable. I was a military wife for years, and as long as no one is shooting at my husband, I’ve always felt I could roll with just about anything. So work stress is my kiddie version of the roller coaster. It looks intimidating when you are 5, not when your 8. Do you know what I mean?
But then, you add the stress of caring for an aging mother. (Who I love greatly. But is as stubborn as the day is long, and no matter how you explain it, she still won’t take her medication as it’s prescribed.) Then add the stress of my health scare and the need to take care of myself. The stress of a leaky roof, (that must be completely replaced). Then every piece of machinery that has an engine breaks down, from cars to lawn mowers. And, as of tonight, the refrigerator just went kaput. All those things in close proximity to each other, and none of the money to do anything about any of it…well that has put me on the Big Daddy of Roller Coaster of Stress this week. All those downs make me want to get off this ride and run screaming from the park. Not to mention, they are exhausting. I need a nap just writing about it.
However, without the downs of my roller coaster ride, I could never truly appreciate the ups of my roller coaster ride. It can be a little jerky getting up the hill, but when you get to the top, the view takes your breath away and you can’t believe you made it this far. Without the troubles, I would never appreciate the positive aspects of my life.
I’m blessed. I have faith in a God who loves me regardless of my troubles and in spite of everything I have done wrong in this world. I have a husband who is my best friend, who cares what I think, and appreciates me for who I am, and loves me even when I am rotten. I have a mother whom I get the privilege of embracing as she imparts her wisdom and love on me, and I cherish these times because I know she won’t be here forever. I have a church family and friends who will pray with me when I’m scared, confused and when I cry out to God for guidance or grace. I have a job and a home with a warm bed and food to eat. Wow, not a bad life. How many people have less at this very moment? My heart hurts for them.
Without the perspective the of the Ups, the Downs look devastating with no end in site. We can’t always be on the Up, but we can know that when the Downs happen, an Up can’t be far behind. I hope my trials and tribulations this week can encourage you to know you are not alone in your daily struggles. We all are on this ride together. Some days it’s the kiddie roller coaster and others it’s the Big Daddy roller coaster. Whichever it is, appreciate it, throw your hands up and laugh, this ride goes by too fast.
Thanks for reading.
Answered prayers: Since this was originally published in 2011, my roof has been fixed, my husband has a new job and a company car, everything seems to be running smoothly, so that is a reason to praise.
Prayers needed: Of course with every up there is a down, I no longer care for my aging mother, she has moved back to her hometown, where she feels comfortable and I pray for her every day, but I’m thankful she is alive and physically healthy. Even though I loved her while she was here, she needed her own space and independence.
Life is a constant state of change, nothing stands still for very long. How you see it makes all the difference in the world. Let your smile in times of trial be a witness.
With Valentine’s Day in my rearview mirror, I am reminded of my first Valentine’s Day married to Andy.
When we met, and for 8 years after, Andy was a Seargent in the U.S. Army. Being an Army wife wasn’t always easy and sometimes it was downright hard. But the struggles we faced together made us stronger as individuals and as a couple.
Most couples find that the first year of marriage is always hard because you are getting used to one another’s habits and traits. Sometimes finding common ground can seem almost impossible. That wasn’t the case for us. We are in sync, we have always been able to finish each other’s sentences, to the point that we seem know each other’s thoughts and say what the other is thinking.
Still the first year Andy and I were married was a difficult one. We were married the last day of May and in September he was sent to an Army school for training and we were separated for a year almost to the day.
Our first Valentine’s Day didn’t happen on February 14th. On February 14th I was alone, working 14-hour-days and I knew Andy wasn’t coming home during that time. We didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t afford to send him something expensive to let him know I was thinking of him. So, I did something a little unconventional and something I do well, I wrote him notes.
I took one of those little “while you were out” pink message pads that offices sometimes use, and for every day he was gone, I wrote a note. “While you were out… Today the dog got out and I had to chase him down the street, I wish you were here to see it.” “While you were out… Today was Saturday and I had to watch cartoons without you.” “While you were out… You won’t believe what happened to the neighbor.” “While you were out… I missed you terribly.”
You get the picture. Every day I wrote one of these notes. Some days it was my only way of communicating with him and he didn’t even know it. Some days were funny, some days were mushy, some days were sad. It was just a little glimpse of how my life was going that day, set aside just for him. We had a set of French doors at the back of the house and each day taped one of those notes on the door until I had one big heart outlined on the door. But Andy still didn’t get to come home, so I kept adding notes every day, with just little bits of how I felt while he was away. I filled in the heart with at least 100 notes.
When he finally did get to come home for a visit, he pulled into the drive and made his way in through the French doors, where all he could see from the light burning inside the house was a hundred little pink “while you were out” notes. It was one of the best Valentine’s Day celebrations we had, and it wasn’t anywhere near February 14th and it didn’t cost us hundreds of dollars. I still remember him pulling each note off the door, reading them, laughing and his eyes tearing up as he made his way through each note. He read them all and he knew I had thought of him, every single day, even when we couldn’t talk. He knew he was loved and I loved him all the more for taking the time to appreciate the small stuff.
That year I learned the hard way that the Army way of life meant celebrating when you can, not by the date on the calendar. It taught me that sometimes you can be separated for what seems like an eternity, but that doesn’t mean you love each other any less. And, that if you can survive the heartache of being alone, you can celebrate the joy of being together, and it makes the moments you have together more special. Sometimes you don’t get to hear the words “I love you,” when you would like, but you keep the faith that the love is still there.
Learning these lessons made my life as an Army wife easier, they made my life better. They weren’t easy lessons to learn but I thank God every day that I was able to take those lessons to heart.
So, remember to celebrate the moments of life together, when you can, not based on the calendar. It’s not about the quantity of time you have together or about the quality of the gifts you receive, it’s about the quality of time you have together, the meaning of the gifts you give and the depth of the love you share.