It’s no secret, we were young and dumb when we got married. I have no idea how the two of us made it to the couple we are today. Of course hard work and perseverance and, yeah…stubbornness. But we are so lucky.
Even after all these years, I’m amazed by how much he loves and works so hard for our family. He’s my partner in crime…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A few weeks ago, I was headed to pick Beezus up from school. There was a difference in schedules that day, so I was headed out to the high school a little earlier than normal. And as I stopped at a light not far from the school, a truck pulled up next to me.
“Huh. That’s funny. That looks like The Dude’s truck.”
Being that I drive a car much lower than the truck, I couldn’t really see in the window. And, like always, my mind was filled on the next thing. Like my to-do list once I picked up my kids.
“Huh…funny. That guy’s arm looks like it could be The Dude.”
And then the truck’s window rolled down and I happened to look over into my husband’s smiling face.
I laughed. I hadn’t expected to see him. And so my mind ignored the possibility that it COULD be him.
Not that I shouldn’t be happy to see him, but this unexpected “running into each other at a stoplight” seeing him made me stupid happy. Like, my heart did that pitter-patter/flip-flop thing.
I rolled down my window, still laughing. And after some funny hello’s, I found myself blurting out,
“It’s my person!”
I don’t know why that stuck with me. And why it still sticks with my now. It makes my heart swell and it still makes me giggle. But there was something about that chance meeting at a stoplight that reminded me how much I love that he’s my person.
So much of this past year has been a near-constant reminder why he’s my partner in crime. We can both be such pains in the ass, but we are better because we have each other. We are a team. We are the balancing act that beats all.
We are beating the all the odds.
Someone told me yesterday that The Dude and I did everything right.
And I laughed right out loud.
Because for 16 years as of today, I’ve joked that we did everything backwards and wrong. Because our baby was at our wedding. Because we lived with my in-laws. Because we’ve barely made it through all the obstacles. Because life was so, so hard.
Because we’ve done nothing by the book and nothing by the rules. Okay, almost nothing.
But something that this year has shown me (again) is what a crock of shit those rulebooks often are. Because maybe you have to make your own rules and blaze your own trails because the path on the map doesn’t make any sense. Instead of being worried about our rough beginning, we can be so damn proud of our present and our future. And if someone pays us the compliment of doing everything right, say THANK YOU…and recognize how blessed we really are!
My life is insane and crazy and chaotic and, well, hard. But my life is also full and wonderful and fun and amazing. And sometimes it’s nice to be able to sit back and remember all that.
So who cares that maybe sitting at a stoplight was the best date we’ve had in a while.
Don’t tell my husband, but apparently it doesn’t take much to make me ridiculously happy.
Every Monday and Wednesday, my husband (The Dude) teaches an evening class at a nearby college. I know! Our life isn’t busy enough so we threw another mound of crap on an already very full plate. But what started out as a work “I think you should do this” thing turned into “hey we could totally pay off this bill” thing. We obviously talked a lot about this before fully committing to it and decided we would try it out for a semester. And yes, I said “WE”. My Mondays and Wednesdays are now a whole lot more insane.
And they were pretty insane before.
I think since we live in a pretty constant state of busy, it’s almost like we don’t even notice when we throw another log on the busy fire. However, this week saw us have MANY scheduling conflicts and overbookings for things that were already scheduled way in advance. Which is fine. Sorta. It’s just that I am asking for help even when it’s hard to do so.
Yesterday was especially nutty. Luckily, my mom had Ramona and could hang out with her later than normal. I had gotten a ride for Beezus from her water polo game to softball practice (because logistics were impossible unless I only worked a half day) but I still needed to get her softball bag to her after leaving the office. Maybe it was lucky that we both got a little stuck in traffic, because that way we ended up at practice at the same time. As I called out my goodbye as she traded one backpack for another, I said “Hey! I’ll probably be late!” My response when she asked why? “Because my life is insane! And so is yours! Yay!” (I did have a smile on my face. Just thought I’d put that out there. It might have been an ironic, sarcastic type of smile.)
I took all the back roads as I headed home to try and avoid some of the traffic. Quick phone call to touch bases with Sarah on some important FP updates. Sang at the top of my lungs when I needed to. Pulled up to my house, knowing I would be leaving again in 15 minutes. My brother was there dropping off a chair (because, duh…doesn’t your brother drop off chairs on Wednesdays?) so a quick hello and an equally quick goodbye, and my mom (Ramona) and I were off to a family-type meeting regarding my brother’s wedding next month. A meeting I should’ve only stayed at for 20 minutes because Beezus would be done with practice soon. However, it was rather hard to leave right in the middle of plan stuffs.
So I asked for help. Again.
Wonderfully and thankfully for me, my dear friend (and another parent from the softball team) could cover for me. I was able to text everyone involved and soon enough, Beezus had a ride to their house while they waited for me to finish up. I didn’t stay too much longer, though. Just long enough for my sister in-law to call me Miss Perfect and long enough for me to be super sarcastic and crack jokes to people I didn’t know very well. (Totes normal!)
As I picked up Beezus from my sweet friend’s house, she said it sounded like the next few weeks were pretty crazy. I said yeah. She asked what she could do for me. (I love her.) I said, “Uh…THIS. This helped me a ton! Taking my child home with you saved the day.”
And then I said what I always seem to say:
“I just need to get through September.”
But of course, I’m an idiot and wasn’t thinking about the aforementioned wedding next month.
“Uh. Just kidding. I just need to get through October.”
I know full well that I’ll be saying the very same thing in November and December. (Holidays. Duh.) But, for right now? Getting through the next 4-5 weeks is all I can focus on.
Now, you would think that our story would end with us heading home after that. But it doesn’t. Yes, we are as insane as you think we are, but we have family visiting from out of town (out of the country, really) and so we popped over to my in-laws to say hello while The Dude met us there. We only stayed for an hour, though…the kids had to get to bed. And I had to start a load of laundry because I really wasn’t sure what the clean underwear situation was. (Ahem. It was good I did laundry.)
Tonight doesn’t look a whole lot different, but I won’t make myself look more insane by telling you about that too. At least there is a lot less driving tonight, The Dude isn’t teaching, and I probably won’t have to start a load of clothes when I get home. However, I really should do the dishes that are beginning to pile up in the sink just in case we have company tonight after the family attends Beezus’ double-header softball games.
The day before my husband got home from his two-week business trip, I called in the troops. I am often terrible at asking for help, but I knew that I needed it. Those two weeks had tested me in ways that I wasn’t exactly prepared for. It was even busier than I had planned on (the dummy that I am) and I just couldn’t do it on my own. Luckily, my volunteers kicked serious ass. But my mental health? Well…it really took a beating. It felt like I had been in a constant state of stress since February. Work was stressful. Moving is effing stressful. Solo-parenting is stressful. I honestly felt like it would never end.
Picking up The Dude from the airport made a world of difference. Because, damn, he’s my person. Sure he may aggravate me at times, but we really are a great team. And he just…does stuff while I’m trying to do stuff, too. And things get done! Of course, there wasn’t any time for “Hello! Welcome Home!” because we immediately had to keep going on the move. We really had packed a ton before he left and me and my volunteers had rocked it, but the last minute crap totally adds up. Nevermind the fact that we still had to get the new house move-in ready. Oh. Also a softball tournament. Because of course.
The next morning, we had a bit of a juggling act to deal with in our “regular” life and with the new house. Somehow, we had to get Beezus to her softball tournament (and catch as much of it as we could) and also deal with a scheduling issue with the new house craziness. The carpet guys had finished right on time the day before, but the painters still needed more time. The housecleaners were already scheduled, and we couldn’t push them back. It was a very odd balancing act of staying out of everyone’s way…but could you please hurry up because wet paint is a nightmare when you want things to be cleaned. And I don’t know if you remember, but the house was a ridiculous, filthy mess. Grime and dirt and yuck in pretty much every room in the house. (Degreaser used on the showers. I can’t shut up about that.)
But the paint colors. Holy crap, the paint colors were AMAZING. I was absolutely in love with the colors we had chosen. (Sorry for all the iPhone picture. Wait. Not I’m not.)
Like, wanted to marry every paint color we had picked because it was just too amazing for words.
They were soothing and calm and soothing and calm. The complete antithesis of the colors they replaced.
I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t until the after the painters and the cleaners had left that I finally felt like this could be our home. I spend a lot of random minutes worrying that I was never going to love this house. I mean, there was excitement because I was able to find the silver lining most of the times, but there were plenty of times that I agonized over our decision.
Except for the paint colors. Hot damn, did I mention I loved the paint colors?
Somehow we survived the final weekend of getting ready, and all of a sudden the movers arrived to pack up all our crap bright and early Monday morning. As luck would have it, I had to be at work for part of the day. Luckily, The Dude and our amazing people who put up with us were there to make it all happen. And I don’t care how organized we thought we were, moving day NEVER EVER SEEMS TO END. It just doesn’t. And it sucks. It’s like that last trimester of pregnancy where you just resigned yourself to looking like a beached whale for the rest of your life because that baby was probably not ever coming out. It’s the feeling of despair.
But no, the move actually does happen. And you’re furniture and your things (that are in boxes piled everywhere) is sitting there. It finally feels real and like you kinda sorta belong there because LOOK! That is your couch. And more importantly, THERE IS YOUR BED. (And speaking of which, one of the best pieces of advice from my mom: make sure your bed is ready before you do anything else. A soft place to land after a reeeeaaaaallly long day of moving is the most magical feeling in the world. I had even washed all the bedding, just before packing it, so that it could be taken care of ASAP.) (Magical. It was magical.)
Since moving in a little more than a month ago, we’ve gotten most things unpacked…even the garage is pretty gosh-darn organized. I still don’t have pictures on the walls, but that is mostly because I can’t commit to what I want. I may need to switch out some frames and make different choices. Mainly because we have more walls to fill, but also because I’m still getting to know the flow of the house. That might sound hokey, but the house and I are still getting to know one another. I love it. I really, really love it, but I feel like I need to know the house a little better before we put holes in the walls.
There is still so much to do. It’s almost overwhelming if I think about it too much. Thank goodness the structure of the house is sound, but the cosmetics of it were and are a mess. My dad and my brother (and the gardeners) helped us (okay, helped The Dude) start cleaning the yard. Clearing out SO MUCH OVERGROWTH.
They were also able to tame all of the fruit trees and grape vines that were seriously out of control. And, most important to Jill, cut back any tree branches that were touching the house. Because NO MICE PLEASE IN MY HOUSE. (OMG, I almost can’t even talk about it.) We also had to get the pest company out to our house immediately because…well, there were so many bugs with all the fruit trees and overgrowth. Plus, strange water bugs that weren’t actually in the water? Just hanging around the yard? I don’t even know. But wow with the bugs.
The pool has also been a HUGE challenge. We immediately hired a pool service, but it has taken a lot of hard work to get that pool looking awesome. The pool took a beating, really. And I’m super excited that we’re finally getting to a point where it’s not so crazy. (And can we talk about how we put up some lights in the yard and around the pool for Beezus’ birthday and holy crap, it makes me happy?)
My house isn’t decorated by any stretch of the imagination. I have a couple things done here and there, but since we’ve focused so much time on the “fires” that need to be put out, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to work on the pretty. And honestly? I’m just excited that we’ve gotten as far as we have in such a short amount of time. We couldn’t have done it without amazing family and friends. And I seriously couldn’t have done any of this without The Dude. That guy makes shit happen.
There are moments when I chuckle to myself at everything that we seemed to “ignore” when we made our offer on this house. It is honestly how I know that it was meant to be. We were blessed with the gift of temporary-house-view-blindness. Or rose-colored glasses. Whatever it was, I’m amazed that we looked past the yuck. But I’m more amazed at how perfect this house is for us. And I didn’t even know it at first. This house is nothing like what we thought we needed to buy. We never set out for any of this. But those unanswered prayers you hear about? Yeah. That’s this house. It it this amazing space that has room for all my loved ones. (I haven’t tried to fit all my loved ones in the house at one time, but CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.) I can share these blessings with all of them. My family fits. (MY FAMILY FITS, YOU GUYS.) And it just makes me so happy to have them all there. And going through all the stress and gross and craziness and gross…well, I think it just makes it that much more worth it.
When we decided to put an offer on the house, we knew we would have some work to do. Every homeowner is…different. They probably loved their (horrible) orange and green and yellow colored (and sometimes sponge painted) walls. And, honestly, it sounds like it wasn’t an easy time for them, so maybe the general care of the house and backyard was just too much for them.
So we knew that for us to feel comfortable, we needed to factor in the various “home improvements” into our costs and into our offer. Looking back, I’m actually pretty surprised that we were able to look past all that we did. This was our fourth house that we had put an offer, so ignoring the ugly was meant to be. I’m just still not sure how we did it.
On the day that we got the keys, The Dude had already been gone for a week on his two-week business trip. (Yes, let that sink in for a minute. A super stressful time and I was flying solo? Yeah. I’m really not sure how I stayed as sane as I did.) So with my parents and family along for the ride, we walked into this new house that had just become ours. The painters and the carpet guys had already been scheduled for that next week, but we were excited to just be able to see the house. Except…as soon as I walked in, I felt more overwhelmed than excitement. I actually started to feel sick to my stomach and dangerously close to tears.
The house smelled…funny. The pool hadn’t been taken care of since we had gone into contract and it was a GLOWING GREEN mess. Somehow I hadn’t focused on the yard the few times I had been to visit. But now, all the fruit trees and grapevines and various other NEVER BEFORE TAKEN CARE OF plants were staring me in the face. And, well…fruit trees attract critters. Critters that scattered throughout the trees when the sun goes down. And now my stomach turned as I worried about mice in my (new) (but dirty/gross) house. I was so quiet as I surveyed everything that needed to be done. I had never before hired housekeepers…but now I was more grateful than ever that we had already made that call. I knew that if it had been me to do all the cleaning, the image of all the filth would’ve stuck in my brain as I tried to cook dinner or take a shower in a bathroom that was less than desirable. And by “less than desirable” I mean a shower that needed a degreaser (that’s de-GREASER) to get the grime off. Yowsa.
I honestly don’t know how I didn’t have a panic attack right there in front of everyone. I guess scary quiet Jill was close enough. My mom could see the look on my face and I’m pretty sure she is what kept me sane. I did not lost my shit right then and there even though it was a very, very close call.
The next week was a blur of meetings with painters and carpet guys and regular insane life stuffs. I was lucky that we had decided on the carpet before The Dude had left on his trip, but the paint colors were up to me. Thankfully, I had a general idea what I wanted and a Sarah who talked me off of every paint-color-ledge there was. She also stopped by the new house to be there when I needed to meet with the owner of the pain company. He was an absolute ass and I’m pretty sure if she hadn’t been there, I would’ve lost my shit. Another close call.
Moving and packing is hard enough. But since I was without my partner in crime, I had a lot to deal with all on my own. From wiring the remainder our down payment and closing costs to picking out paint colors. Getting the keys, and making arrangements for the carpet guys. Softball practices, etc for Beezus? A conference out of town? 4+ All Star games for Ramona? Just part of the deal. And it was a mess. An exhausting, messy mess of all messes. In a state of absolute panic, I called on the people who kept asking me how they could help. And I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without them.
This move was happening fast and I was about to get knocked over by the stress of it.
Yesterday, I started celebrating my birthday week. I couldn’t help myself. Apparently delicious pizza with delicious company was an order. Happy!
And then I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the roses in my back yard. Happy!
But you know what else?
This guy. This guy makes me happy.
I sorta, kinda feel the need to celebrate my birthday every day this week. And not with any big fanfare or party…just with little things that make me happy. Whatever that may be. And starting all the things that I included today. I don’t mean to be annoying or self-centered…I just wanted to share my happy places in case you needed a change of pace after last week.
The world needs a lot more happy. And I hope that you’ll share yours, too.