Reflections on Year Two

Year Two
  • BALANCE: We decided we should have some fun before bringing a child into the world, so we started enjoying each others' company a bit more. This meant that Steve would only play volleyball twice a week and I would try to be more productive with my free time- this makes for a husband who actually wants to spend time with his wife. Haha. I may have been a bit spoiled in our dating relationship, so it was shocking when he didn't want to work long hours at a hard labor job and come home and do laundry and vacuum and cook dinner and clean the bathroom and be super loving/kind etc... I get it now :) We made a point of trying new places to eat and going for walks and just spending more time with each other, which made for more communicating, which makes for better married life. I guess we were two very independent people pre-marriage? Haha
  • PERSPECTIVE: We gained a whole lot of perspective during this year. We started planning for Kalea to arrive, and realized that we had totally screwed ourselves over financially in that first year. That was a real fun wake-up call. Then our rent got jacked up. Then we realized that we couldn't afford for Steve to do the semester he needed to keep up the education part of his machining apprenticeship because I would be on maternity leave and, unlike most employers who take part in apprenticeship placements, Steve's refused to help out financially so that he could finish the schooling that he needed for his ticket. So in a grand attempt at grown up thinking, we put our name on a list at a housing co-op so that we could have cheaper rent and get our debts paid down faster, so then maybe we could afford to do the important stuff, like school. Then we had Kalea and I obsessed over making her tiny room in our apartment perfect. HA. Then we gave our notice to the apartment that we were moving because we heard back from the co-op that they had a place for us, then we went and looked at it and it was not in very great condition and we couldn't live there with a baby with it being so bad. So we turned it down. But the apartment building had already found a renter for our place. So now we had a baby and no place to live, so we moved in with Steve's parents! What we thought would only be a few months turned into 8, but luckily we got along pretty good, and they vacationed a few times in that period and we house-sat for some friends for a few weeks, so it wasn't quite as crazy as it could've been. Kalea was super lucky to get to have that much time with Steve's parents and I was lucky to have so much help with baby Kalea. I actually kind of miss walking into the bathroom every Tuesday morning to find the glass cleaner and other cleaning supplies ready for "marathon morning of clean", it was actually fun cleaning with somebody else. I also miss the dishwasher...
  • EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: Right around our 2nd anniversary Kalea was at the age where we were really having a lot of fun together, she was portable and she was always happy to smile and giggle and coo at strangers. She was magnetic and as such Steve and I loved to be together with her, we have loved marriage more since we've had kids, maybe because we bond over the misery of some of the "joys" of parenting? We definitely have a lot more to talk about at the end of the day than we used to! It was also around that time that I began to be suspicious about some things, like how I was always super tired. Also, I was doing an Abs/Buns class at our community center and I was finding that it was taking me a few days to recover from each class, which was strange because it was difficult but not crazy intense and I had been fine besides the first few weeks when I was getting used to the burn. Then there was this time that Steve's mom cooked us these pasta nests with sauce and I woofed it down and found myself running to the bathroom before it even hit my stomach. So I went to the doctor that week and found out Brynlee was on her way. LOL We definitely weren't planning on having another baby, but we were still somewhat excited about it. It's a good thing that we had applied for a "large 3 bedroom townhouse" and not the small 3 or 2 bedroom. 
  • PRAYERS GET ANSWERED: I might have been a bit of a stress case at the end of year 2. I was already planning to go back to work since we had help with Kalea and yet I was super hesitant about it. I kept feeling torn and unsure and a lot of the time I felt like I had zero answers for anything. The day that I had my back-to-work meeting was the day that I found out I was pregnant. Knowing how stressful my job had become while I was pregnant with Kalea, I wasn't real excited about the thought of going back while pregnant with #2, so I decided that I'd take the next 8mths to get as much 1on1 time with Kalea before we rocked her world. Everyone had an opinion about that, but besides missing out on the extra money, I can't say that I really regret that choice. I think it was important for my mental health not to go back to an unhealthy work environment while dealing with pregnancy hormones and guilty mom syndrome, and I feel like Kalea got the attention that she deserved from her Mom- even if some days I just laid on the couch and watched her play. Steve worked really hard this year and he worked as much overtime as his boss would let him so that the pinch wasn't so bad. He also got two raises in year 2- almost unheard of at this shop. He got one right after we had Kalea and then a bonus that Christmas and another little raise around our anniversary. That was a huge answer to prayer when we had no idea how we were going to afford 2 kids and make our debt payments and keep a roof over our own heads.
I think in year 2 we learned a lot about just how much married people need to rely on each other and trust in Heavenly Father. We found it a lot easier to feel like we were getting answers when we were more open with and kind to each other. We weren't perfect and we didn't always agree with each other 100%, but I think with Kalea's birth, we really learned what we were made of as a couple. Seeing Steve as a Dad confirmed to me that I had really made the most awesome choice for my kids and myself. His level of involvement is impressive and I knew he'd be like that I just didn't expect that he would be so willing in all areas. In year 2 we kind of proved ourselves to each other, like "Ha, I laugh in the face of living with your parents!" and "Well, ha, I laugh in the face of 2a.m. feedings and diaper changes in the dark!" it was almost a bit of a competition at who could out-do the other and it was a good time.
Stay tuned, exciting yr.3 is next!


    Reflections on Year One

    Steve and I are coming up on 5yrs of marriage in a week, so I thought maybe I'd write some insightful and inspiring things about our time together thus far. LOL Just kidding, kind of. I thought it might be a good idea to share different thoughts that we've had about each year so far, if only for my own entertainment and record keeping purposes, since most everything I write in my actual journal has much more to do with raising kids than my musings on marriage.

    Year One
    • I asked Steve what word he would use to describe year one, he said SELFISH. I fully agree. We were super selfish not only in the choices we made together (stupid stupid truck buying) but also individually. We had super high expectations of each other that we didn't really communicate about in a mature or super loving way. We were always butting heads on every minor detail of every minor and major thing. Neither one of us was too keen to give in very quickly and it made for some stress, but we have since figured out how to be a lot less selfish and communicate better.
    • I think I might use the word LONELY to describe year one. That's depressing. Sorry, it just was. We were both working and he was playing lots of volleyball, to I think avoid my particular brand of crazy, and sometimes it felt like we were just roommates. It was also lonely in the sense that I'm a pretty straight shooter when it comes to talking about issues when they arise, and Steve, not so much. So a lot of the time things were left really open-ended and it was lonely having nobody to talk to about it.  I felt disconnected from him and from the people around me and from myself- scary lonely place. Now we talk lots about lots, I don't mind waiting a bit for Steve to gather his own thoughts about something and he doesn't mind letting me just have my moment when an issue arises. I also have figured out how to talk to other people about stuff without revealing every detail of what's going on with Steve and I. I really wouldn't want people talking about the details, and I try not to get too caught up in other people's details if I can avoid it.
    • We agree that the term COMPROMISE is also appropriate. There was a lot of that happening that year, and we learned a lot from having to lower some expectations and work together to figure out what was going to work best for our relationship. Compromise in our marriage though, only works when we're both on board 100%, so it's still a constant process, but far less painful now than year one.
    • EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER could also describe year one. There were super happy moments and super unhappy ones. There was the mix of work/school/home life stresses that just complicated all the major stuff that was going on and it was not the smoothest ride that year.
    • Probably the best part of  year one was finding out we were adding to the family. We gained some much needed perspective when we found out Kalea would be joining us, and we started working on a lot of things right away so she wouldn't find herself in the middle of a huge mess when she arrived. That was a huge blessing. I was also super sick for the first 20wks of that pregnancy, which meant I had a lot less energy to argue anything, so Steve was able to have a bit of a break from "the crazy" and he took really great care of poor sick pregnant me. Then he had his tonsils removed and we both were super sick and had to take care of each other a bit more and we bonded. Once we started to be a little more SELF-LESS we started to like each other a lot more again. Haha, lesson learned. No amount of praying together or reading scriptures helped our cause, it was the actual "doing of the word" and serving each other that saved us that year and has kept us on a pretty even keel ever since.
    When people say "The first year is the hardest", they're right. It really was. But ultimately it was the most important for us because we learned a lot of those foundational things that we've heard you need to make the subsequent years successful. The list above is fairly short, we learned a whole bunch, but in the interest of not getting too personal or over-sharing, you get the short list. I never understood what people meant when they talked about "marriage is work", I was all caught up in the "put on a happy face" facade of what marriage looked like. I get the work part now, it's constant, it doesn't stop and it probably never will. Thank goodness. Happy bubbles are great, but I like things to be a little messy, and my marriage is a little messy. I like it and looking back on year one now, I'm a lot more grateful for it than I ever thought I would be. Thanks year one, you didn't totally suck after all!


    Change & No Small Miracles

    We had some great changes last week at church. I should preface by saying that in our church we don't have paid clergy or anything of that nature, all callings are issued by inspiration and accepted on a volunteer basis, and some take up a lot of time and others not so much, but all are important. We also don't believe in having aspirations to be in a certain position, we believe that our Bishop receives inspiration and revelation from Heavenly Father in regards to who should fill these positions in our particular congregation, that holds true for our church on local, national and international levels. It's kind of an organizational miracle, and it's part of what makes us unique.
    Anyways, when Steve and I were first married I was put to work in the Young Women's program for girls 12-18, specifically I taught the 12-13yr old girls each Sunday or every other Sunday. I was also involved in helping coordinate their goals for completing "Personal Progress"- a program designed to help them gain practical skills and develop their talents, it was a blessing to be involved with these girls, now most of those 12yr old girls are DRIVING their parents' mini-vans, scary...That lasted for 2ish years and then I was asked to be in the presidency of our ward(congregation) Relief Society,  for women 18yrs+. We don't aspire to callings, but it was pretty overwhelming to be asked to serve in this capacity as a fairly young person. I mean, I was 25 with 2 very small girls, feeling like I had very little to offer, being asked to help minister to 130+ women, most of whom were more seasoned and experienced than I. What I quickly came to realize was that this calling was more for me than for them. I have learned so much from the strength of these women, from serving alongside them these past few years. I feel like everyone has added so much to my life experience that words can't really do them justice. This has been such a huge blessing in my life and my family's life and I feel so grateful to have a Heavenly Father who would give me such a great opportunity to learn and grow, and feel more a part of our church community. It's true, those first few years with the Young Women's were great, but I felt like everyone knew Steve because he grew up here and I was just "Steve's wife" which is totally fine with me now, but back then it felt like there was no way for me to break out of that label, so I felt a bit like an outsider.
    The responsibilities I've had in Relief Society have really helped shove me into the circle a bit, and that's good because sometimes I don't put myself out there enough. I had the great opportunity of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ on a very regular basis, and increasing my love for Him through serving the sisters in our ward. I've learned so much, not just on a spiritual level, but practical things too. I've had the opportunity to visit with sisters I might not have had the chance to, I learned to crochet, and strangely enough which batting is best for which kind of quilt... I learned to "be prepared" to teach, when teachers don't show up or call the night before to say they're sick or out of town. I've learned that people don't generally put their hurts on display and to be much more careful about passing certain judgements on anyone, or speaking my opinions too pointedly. I've learned that the best way to feel apart of something is to jump in and get your feet wet, the best way to get to know and love people is to serve them, and the best way to grow closer to the Savior is not just to feel good about what He's done for me, but to go out and do something for someone else that He would want me to- even when I feel inadequate or just don't feel like it. Nothing changes a bad day or crappy attitude faster than service to others- and it doesn't even have to be big thing. I've also learned that we are more than equipped with the tools that we need to do things that seem really hard. We weren't sent here to fail and we have a Heavenly Father who really knows and loves us collectively and individually, and when we need to learn something, He provides a way for us to learn it, whether we want to or not.
    I feel like my family has benefited in the biggest way, because this calling has really helped me through all this learning to be a Mom stuff. It is not super easy, but I found women who I can relate to and look up to- besides the awesome Mothers in my own family- and I was able to learn how to relax into my role. That's been huge because I was trying to do it all at one point and failing miserably, and as much as Steve was a huge help during that time, I really needed some "motherly advice" from someone who knew what it was like, and I got it. Huge blessing. It also gave me something to focus on, outside of my own family and I think everyone needs that, whether it be a job, volunteering in the community, or what have you, it's great to have somewhere else to focus some attention and feel like you're contributing. And now somebody else gets the opportunity to grow and learn in that and a host of other things, and I'm super excited for them. As for me, I'm feeling like I can be happy with the contributions I've made, and grateful for the contributions others have made to me, and excited to see what's next.

    In completely unrelated news, have you all been captivated by the Canadians who were rescued by a container ship off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii? Haha, yeah, um we definitely have, Steve was invited to go on that trip! Obviously, for the purpose of work and making a living, it wasn't really something that was feasible for us, so he stayed home and we've been watching the facebook updates all month. It's a huge blessing that our friends are all safe and sound, and were able to make contact with the right people to get themselves rescued. Another evidence that Heavenly Father watches over His children and that all the little things can indeed add up to make a really HUGE difference in whether or not a story ends up happy or devastating.