Dr. Maya Angelou: April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou, an incredible human being, activist, teacher, woman, and poet died Wednesday May 28, 2014 at the age of 86.

We’d like to honour her here by offering a collection of some of her quotes. And we hope that we can do her justice by living her wise, wise words: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Maya - Accomplished

 

Maya - Best

 

Maya - Enough

 

Maya - Handle

 

Maya - Normal

 

Maya - Success

 

Maya - Teach

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Something special to me

Okay, so everyone has a thing, right?

Everyone has that guilty pleasure in their life that not a lot of people know about. Whether it is Julia and her love of gossip, or some people with their love of soap operas, everyone has one and everyone deserves one.

I have one… I have a love of web comics.

I have two that are my favourites that I read every day, and when I found them I went back and started from the beginning. I devoured and read them both through the night, and I still go back and revisit the beginning like I do my favourite books.

I love the fact that I got to see the artists grow with their followings. That their art work kept growing as well until it is the spectacular comics I read today, and they still try and improve, and are still doing as much as they can to connect to their fans, whether it is conventions or tours.

I also love how you get a glimpses into their lives every once in a while and you get to feel like a part of their lives even if only for a moment.

The first is called Questionable Content. It is by an amazing artist named Jeph Jacques.

It is about an awesome and eclectic group of friends. They live in a parallel word where there is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and the robots have a storyline all their own. (If you want more information check out the wiki page!)

My favourite character in this series is Hannelore, or Hanners. She has severe anxiety and mental health issues but she keeps improving and working through each one and she is happily getting better with the help of her wacky friends.

My other favourite comics is Girls With Slingshots. It is by an equally amazing artist Danielle Corsetto.

“The strip’s two main characters, Hazel and Jamie, sprung to life in a strip called Hazelnuts, the unintentional prequel to GWS. The title was derived from requests Danielle used to get at comic conventions to draw girls with guns (she sucked at drawing guns, so she drew them with slingshots).”

– Girls With Slingshots

Hazel is always stuck in the past and her best friend Jamie keeps pushing her forward. There is also the mysterious Clarice who is a librarian by day, Dominatrix by night.

There are more characters, but those are my favourite.

The thing I love about this comic is that there are so many dynamics of couples, relationships, and friendships. Each one has something special or different about them. For instance, Jamie is head-over-heels in love with a wonderful girl named Erin, but they are an asexual cuddly kind of lovely couple (I don’t know if I am explaining this just right, but I love the depth that this relationship has.)

The stories of each of the characters opens up your mind to new possibilities and gives you warm fuzzy feelings all over.

These two artists are amazing. I have been reading them for about four years now, and every time I visit these to web universes I am never disappointed.

If you want go give them some love, and hopefully you will fall in love with them like I did.

~ Andreah

Broadcast dependence

I love television…I do. I love coming home after a long day at work, dumping my bags at the door, falling onto the couch and putting on any television show.

When I was younger, the TV was barely on – we were always outside creating our own adventures, climbing trees and scraping knees. Then elementary school happened, and it became more and more important that you watched the same shows as your peers, after all who wanted to be different and not watch that amazing episode of The Simpsons (side note, we had restrictions on what TV we watched, and The Simpsons was definitely not in our repertoire).

My parents did not see the same importance of television that I did, and because I didn’t pay the bills, they weren’t really willing to add cable to the long list of monthly household bills we had. Thus we “managed” with 5 channels: TVO, CBC, CTV, CityTV, and Global. I say we managed because it was not instilled in us the requirement of having cable or satellite. We had a TV – and that was more than what others had.  Those 5 channels – they were all we needed.

TV became a meeting place for my sisters, myself and my mother. Wednesday nights after church we would come home and watch Gilmore Girls – this was our weekly ritual, and regardless of what happened in the day, the homework you had or the projects that were due, we all met around our little TV, which was a raffle prize from when I was 6, and watched Rory and Lorelai go through their ups and downs of life.

.

Thursday nights were when we watched the best, Friends, which to this day is the most amazing television show and is quoted at least daily.

There was also Boston Public, and CSI, and Without A Trace, which Julia and I would never miss – and even when she moved away we would watch it on the phone together.

Without a Trace

The love of TV is not a foreign concept. I laugh as my mother-in-law and sister-in-law plan their evenings and days around their “Shows”, and there are a lot of them – I would be surprised if the number didn’t rise above 10.

I, too, find myself recording a show that I can’t seem to live without. I wake up early to ensure that I am prepared for the conversation around the water cooler the next day. I watch Grey’s Anatomy and Nashville and love both television dramas. I have cried as the characters cried, and laughed as they make their smart ass comments.

Why – why do we love it? Is it because it plays on our human curiosity of wanting to know and understand different situations? Some argue that television has replaced novels, but it’s a natural evolution! We have evolved from telling stories for entertainment to radio, to black and white moving pictures, to smaller daily productions. Now we have 3D and projection screens to make our experience that much better.

The created and imaginative fiction is still present, the delivery has just changed.

For me the answer of why I love television is because it is a break from thinking of the daily struggles. When I watch TV, I am not thinking about the amount of work I have waiting for me the next day – I am thinking about the quirky girl and geeky guy who live across the hall from each other who one day will finally be together as the storyteller has intended.

I love television – I really do. I love telling and listening to stories, and whether the delivery is a blog or a sitcom, there is still an audience willing to listen.

~ Jacqui

It’s contagious

At this point in our blogger/reader relationship, you should know that I enjoy living a healthier lifestyle.

From the whole and healthy food that I use to nourish my body, to the addiction I have to movement, to the thrill I feel when I tackle and triumph over a new challenge – I love it and crave it.

Pinning exercise

For a while, my fitness journey was shared mostly with my good friend and previous trainer, Julie. While a new career path has changed our relationship slightly, I will forever attribute the beginning of this love affair to her pushing me to be better than myself.

I can tell you honestly that the change I love the most is not in the pounds shed, the firmness found, or the satisfaction of needing an entirely new wardrobe because nothing fit anymore. The change I love the most is how proud I am at what my body is capable of – the natural amount of energy I have,  how fast I can go, how long I can go, how much weight I can carry, that people are surprised at my strength based on my size – it’s all a thrill to me.

Running late

Up until about 10 months ago, this shift in lifestyle had been purely selfish and the thing I was doing for me. I never imagined that I was affecting or influencing the women around me. Slowly but surely, I was joined regularly by my girlfriend Chantelle whenever I would head out for a run, bike ride or workout. Her determination was impressive and her desire to be better for herself was inspiring. It pushed me harder, made me work more and reach new goals of my own. I was so excited that she saw what she wanted to accomplish for herself.

And then one day, my older sister Julia asked what I was still doing to stay fit. When I told her, she wanted in! We did things as a threesome when our schedules worked and in pairs or solo when it didn’t. It was awesome! There is nothing like finding a group of women with the same goals and desires as you. It made me feel normal, accepted and so proud.

And then my mini-me Jacqui asked if I wanted to workout with her one day, and then go for a run with her another. It made my heart fly. We quickly became a foursome of sisters-in-fitness. While hectic schedules, rotating turns to have the end-of-the season cold, or rough and sleepless nights don’t always and rarely allow us to all be together, the extra accountability was just what we needed.

exercise-fart

And then our adopted sister Kim heard about how much Julia was loving it and decided one evening to join us. She was hooked! We pushed each other, read and researched, gave suggestions when we needed some help to overcome an obstacle or plateau – it’s been incredible to watch. Seeing each one of these women find what works for them – Chantelle’s new found love of hot yoga, Julia, Kim and Jacqui’s love of running and finding their stride, our mutual love/hate relationship with HIIT and burpees –  it must be how parents and teachers feel when lessons are not only learned, but applied and new milestones are reached by their wee ones.

Burpees

Julia’s lovable friend Sara, whom I have known since my pre-teen years, has just recently been inducted into the TLT (an acronym I refuse to spell out for its sheer embarrassment – thanks ladies!) group of incredibly supportive women. While I wouldn’t consider what we do a class or bootcamp, and I am no body builder or personal trainer, I am incredibly proud of the example I set because of the fire that was found in me by my trainer.

~ Toni

P.S. Julie is now in the real estate market and loving her new career. If you’re in the market for sale or purchase of a new home or investment property, contact Julie Belanger at realtorjuliebelanger@gmail.com.

Tell her she’s awesome

I talked about the idea of feeling bad for people who want children and who have announced that they’re pregnant – worrying over their mental health, the blow to their sense of self, and the permanent upheaval of their lives that they will experience – and how it is wrapped up in my own battles with PPMDs. But is it completely restricted to me or other moms who have experienced mental illness or something traumatic? Or might I be onto something bigger?

I read an article on HuffPost Parents (seriously love following them) called: Throwing a New Mom Pity Party. The author, Kate Rope, a two-time mother and PPMD warrior, postures that maybe, just maybe, it might not be such a bad idea to talk about the bad stuff, the hard stuff, the stuff that makes you think, “What the HELL have I gotten myself into?” with as much zeal as the sweet-baby smell, the realized dream of being a mother, and the all-encompassing love you’re supposed to feel.

She says:

…I don’t think it’s a bad thing to acknowledge the tragedy that can accompany this socially recognized miracle. Why do you think Zorba called having a wife, kids and a house “the full catastrophe?” That’s what life is — messy and filled with highs and lows. And, when it comes to motherhood, we need to normalize the lows. There is no shame in talking about how it sucks (albeit not around your friend who is on her second round of IVF) and in reaching out for help at any stage of it.

In the article, she talks about wanting to give a weary-looking mother of a newborn a hug when she spots her in a coffee shop. But she refrains, because truly she doesn’t know what’s going on with her and she’s looking at the mom through the lense of someone who has suffered in her motherhood. And maybe this mom isn’t suffering, per say, but she’s a mother of a young baby, and that is not inherently easy.

But that’s just the point – young babies notoriously don’t sleep, have trouble eating or latching, drain you, throw your schedule for a loop, cry because they don’t know how to pass gas and sometimes scream for no reason at all. Why can’t we talk to a stranger about that? Is it the same reason that we say “Good!” whenever we’re asked how we’re doing in passing?

I get it – you don’t want to freak out some poor defenseless person on the street with your insistence they talk about their feelings right now, but maybe we should relax a little about talking about it in our circles of friends, or family, with our own parents, or with people in our baby yoga class. Maybe we should let go of the idea of perfection and embrace the fact that it’s crazy messy and we’re all doing our very best.

A dear mom-friend of mine, Sara, texted me saying that I should write about “creating a new mom environment – supporting not critiquing – how to create a village”. I think there might be three blog posts in there, but she’s right: as new parents, we’re bombarded with a hundred different ways to do the smallest of things and each of those options claim to be the RIGHT WAY because the other ways just might KILL YOUR BABY. It’s overwhelming. And not helpful.

If you breastfeed your baby, you’re a rock star. If you don’t, you’re a horrible mother. If you make your own baby food, you’re crazy and a health-nut. If you buy jarred food, you better be buying organic, because goodness knows what’s in the ‘other’ stuff.

There is no winning. There is no making the best decision for your family and appeasing everyone else. There is no being perfect.

And therein lies the rub.

No one is perfect. No one has all the answers. No one has ever raised a child completely mess- and stress-free. NO ONE. EVER. PERIOD. But, ads, magazines, well-meaning relatives, friends with children, friends with pets, friends who live in their parents’ basement will tell you otherwise. Will tell you that you’re doing it wrong. That they have a better way. That they are right.

Not everyone will experience my personal pain of surviving a miscarriage or fighting with mental illness. Not everyone will walk the road that I had to in order to become a mother. But everyone who becomes a parent will stumble at some point. Will have a hard time at some point. Will wonder who they have become at some point. Inevitably. No life change comes without challenge. If it did, it wouldn’t be life-changing. It would be hanging out on the couch watching your favourite show. Not doing something awesome and crazy and hard.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

I have come across this incredible online community fueled by Glennon Doyle Melton, a woman who has lived a far from perfect life, but who is learning to embrace the truth that everyone has also lived and is living a far from perfect life, called Momastery. Here, mothers from around the world chime in about embracing their flaws and failures and not working so damn hard pretending that life is anything but nuts. It’s incredibly liberating. And comforting.

Because sometimes, days when I’m covered in poop (no, literally), when I realize the pants I have been wearing have been peed on by two different children on two different days, when I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, when I just want five seconds alone without any sound, I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. If I’m not accomplishing some illusive mom-goals. If I’m failing miserably. If everyone else is normal and I’m the exception.

And then I find things like Momastery. And the Messy Beautiful Warrior Project on Pinterest (an ATTAINABLE Pinterest board, people!) And I realize, not only am I not messing up, but I’m doing awesome because I’m doing it. 

So, the next time you see a new mom, or the mom who is yelling, or the mom on her iPhone, or the mom checking out the no-name, non-organic food in the grocery store, instead of judging, or wondering if you’re doing it wrong, maybe tell her she’s doing alright. She’s doing just fine. And then tell yourself, you’re not too shabby either.

Because as Kate writes in her article, “Even if being a parent is one of your most important life goals — it was for me. You are allowed to struggle — a lot. And just because you signed up for a life-changing experience, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help with all the changes it brings.”

So, help her with her groceries, if your hands are empty. Be truthful when talking about this craziness that is parenthood. Don’t judge when someone makes a different choice than you. And keep in mind that you are doing your best, and that is pretty freaking awesome.

Just show up Be brave Be kind Rest Try again

~ Julia

Sisterhood Spotlight: Greatist.com

When it comes to finding support for leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s hard to find a reliable source that isn’t pushing their own agenda or selling their own brand of get-fit-quick propaganda. While information is accessible everywhere from Google to Pinterest, I’ve come to know and love one particular fitness blog that seems to satisfy all areas of a healthy me – mind, body and soul.

Greatist.com is a blog that covers all areas of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not focused on being skinny, losing weight, pills, quick fixes or fads. Greatist.com strictly focuses on over all health be it mental, physical or spiritual.

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

This specific blog is suited for anyone who is looking to live and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Every post is vetted to make sure the facts are based on a legitimate scientific study, that they are fun and easy to read, and that the information you are receiving is real. If you are interested in yoga, crossfit, running, healthy recipes, tips on how to manage stress, depression, a bad stroke of luck, tools to train your brain and help you ace that test, or even a daily workout, greatest.com is the site for you.

Personally, I opted in for the daily email – it’s a daily digest of posts containing an array  of topics and I find it a great reminder to get up and do something physically active, everyday (yes, even though today’s daily email was about drinking…).

The daily email - May 23, 2014

The daily email – May 23, 2014

I recommend greatest.com to anyone looking for tips, tricks and support on their journey of improving their overall health – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy, happy Friday from the Sisterhood!

~Toni

Lifelong subject

So today I want to just bring up a touchy (at least to me, it used to be) subject:

I cry… a lot.

Me crying when I was little. It started young.

Me crying when I was little.
It started young.

I cry when I’m excited.

I cry when I’m sad.

I cry when I’m happy.

I cry when I’m frustrated.

I cry when I don’t want to and I cry when I know I just need to.

It always sucks when I am going along with my life, and something just happens, whether it is a conversation that is hard, or I see something that reminds me of something from the past, out come my waterworks.

Everything is connected to my tear ducts and I just can’t seem to help it!

I was talking to my favourite counselor back when I lived with the Mommy and she said something to me that I have been working on.

“Andreah, your emotions are a part of you, they are like waves crashing against us. You either need to learn to accept it and ride out those waves, or you are going to drown in them.”

I do my best every day, I work my hardest to make sure I ride the waves, so that I can get through the day without bursting into tears at the drop of the hat.

My sisters, I know, are just as frustrated at the tears as well. After all, they have been a witness to it for 23 years.

“And there she goes again!”

I know how frustrating it is. I wish I could stop! I wish I had little tiny corks to shove in my tear ducts!

Joe sometimes comes home and asks, completely worried, “What happened? Why are you crying?”

Usually it is me finding some video that pulls at the heart strings, or a new song that makes me think of family.

I know that it is silly to be frustrated over something so small, but when it is your constant, it gets kind of old.

I’m tired of the tears as well! I am tired of crying over the smallest thing!

I WISH I COULD STOP TOO!

I am working on it though. I have my breathing exercises that help. I have my visuals that I put in my brain to calm my emotions. I gently relax every part of my body to just calm all the nerves.

It is a tediously slow process of trying to master my emotions, and is so incredibly hard some days, but I am still trying and I hope one day I will be able to not have to worry about my tears.

~ Andreah

Musical motivation

Ever since I can remember there has been music in my life. My dad introduced us to Queen, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, The Tragically Hip, Neil Young, Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers, and Metallica, while my Mom showed us The Rankin Family, Blue Rodeo, Seal and so many others.

    

 

My sisters and momma were all in the choir at our church, and still to this day music surrounds us!

I am blaming the early exposure to music for my now current obsession with musicals and music in general.

From TV shows, such as Glee, to movies (once theatre musicals) like Chicago, Rent, and Burlesque, add music and a dance number to actors like Merly Streep to express the stress of three men possibly being the father of her child!?!?!?! AMAZING! To make it even better, add some comedy and I am tickled pink!

 

In fact as I write this, Toni and I are giggling away as we watch Pitch Perfect. Seriously!
Best!
Movie!
Ever!!!!

If you have not seen it, I am allowing you to leave this blog for the hour and a half that it will take to watch it! …. I’ll wait here. Go on!

……

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, I feel you can appreciate musicals so much more. Cody also shares in my love of music, however hates that I love musicals. This may be because there is a no way to make a musical manly… even if the protagonist is shooting machine guns, while riding a great white shark, somehow adding a musical number for him or her to sing along with it would change the genre from badass to beauty queen (badass beauty queen that is)!

Not a man, but still pretty bad ass… and a little weird!

Although it’s not technically a musical, Nashville pulls at my musical heart strings. It combines my love of country music and good TV. I have been watching since the first season and tell everyone I know who also shares my love of country music about it! Like, for example, my supervisor at work. Every Thursday morning we squeal over the characters’ drama, relationships, deaths and most of all THE MUSIC!!!! I have my phone beside me as I watch to quickly Shazam any and all music that they sing in order to download it from iTunes.

 

I have music with me throughout my day, which means I pretty much live in a musical. So I asked myself what my daily routine would look like without music… My morning run would be fuelled by the song of the birds and although I do enjoy nature’s soothing sounds, somehow I don’t think I would get the same results as if I were being motivated by Beyoncé.

I sing constantly at work, whenever I am around music – my desk mates will have to agree with me. My renditions can be painful and comical but it makes the day go by faster when the sounds of the fax machine and phones are accompanied by Bruno Mars featuring yours truly.

Making dinner would be the simple sizzles of simmering sauces instead of the soothing serenading of Eric Church or Eddie Vedder.

Music makes life better. I suggest you make your life a musical. I did!

~ Jacqui

Team Lillian – Updated!

*Update: Our Cambridge Times Rotary Classic Run in support of KidsAbility is coming up THIS Sunday, May 25th! If you would like to join our team – Team Lillian  – we would love your help in raising donations! If you would like to support our kickass team, please click the link here to donate online! Every little bit counts for this amazing organization that helps so many children and their families in our region!

To learn more about how KidsAbility has helped our Lillian, please enjoy the repost below!*

For those of you who know me personally, it will come as no surprise that I am head-over-heels, completely in love with my nieces and nephew and adore (pardon my French) the shit out of them.  Each one – yes, even our sweet little, bubble-blowing, Isaac – holds a special place in my heart for something that is unique to them. I love watching as they grow into their own little people, with their own distinct personalities, every day.

The babies

The babies

Lillian, or as we lovingly refer to her, Dilly, and I share a special bond.

It could be because she is also the 2nd oldest or middle child as I am, or it could be that her sense of humor/being a butt resonates with my inner toddler, it could be her sweet disposition (when she’s in the mood of course), or our ‘moments’ (which is when she runs up to me, says “Auntie Tomee, you found me!”, lays her tiny little head gently on my shoulder, and stays contently in my embrace for a few moments as I rock her back and forth) or it could be that she was born at a time in my life when I was struggling and holding her in my arms for the first time set my heart and mind straight with positivity in a way that no other being in my life had been able to. Whatever the reason, I feel incredibly blessed to have this little light in my life.

Dilly Toni

Dilly and I at the 2013 KidsAbility Fun Run

Shortly after her birth, we learned of Dilly’s hearing impairment caused by the genetic disorder Waardenburg Syndrome. Initially, human nature caused me to think of all of the challenges she may face – I worried about how children at school might treat her (kids can be SO mean!), or the people that would discount her abilities as she grew (because adults can be assholes), finished school, entered the working world, or even started dating (for the record, totally not my idea, Ben!).

However, as Dilly settled into her life at home, these worries quickly faded and soon seemed so silly. Between the familiarity/normalcy of the syndrome within our family, the wonderful healthcare providers at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital and the blessing of her cochlear implant and hearing aid, as she grew I knew she would be just fine.

Then we were introduced to KidsAbility.

Before Lillian, I had never heard of this AMAZING organization.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with KidsAbility, it is a local non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation services for children from birth to the age of 18, with developmental delays and disabilities, coordination disorders, physical disabilities, and communication difficulties. Specific to Lillian’s hearing impairment, KidsAbility works with her to ensure her speech is developing properly and on track. Not only does KidsAbility work with children to make sure they are developing to their own potential, but they also provide parents and caregivers the tools and understanding to help their children at home in their day-to-day routine that they might not otherwise have access to – and they do it all for FREE.

This past Friday I had the pleasure of tagging along to Dilly’s speech therapy appointment and I instantly understood why she gets so excited about these appointments. The environment and staff are welcoming, warm and kind. Between the giant play/waiting area, the staff and volunteers that are ready to strike up a conversation with the children and easily relate to them and the form of speech therapy which allows Lillian to showcase what she’s learning and where she needs help, it is evident KidsAbility’s focus is to help children realize their potential. 

KA Waiting Area

The KidsAbility play/waiting area

Throughout the appointment Lillian showed me just how much she gets out of these visits. While Julia is always sure to share with us how we can help Lillian and what new tools she is learning, seeing her interact with Heather was a great first-hand experience. They work through a variety of exercises which help Heather to determine where Lillian is excelling,where she needs a little more help and what next steps she should include for her to work on at home.

Heather working on sounds with Dilly at KidsAbility

Heather working on sounds with Dilly at KidsAbility

While KidsAbility has held a special place in my heart for some time now, after seeing first hand how much Lillian – as well as a few other children I was able to witness in therapy – receives from this unbelievable organization, I am even more determined to help this foundation in any way I can.

Last May, I was lucky enough to participate in the Cambridge Times Rotary Classic KidsAbility Fun Run, which is usually held on the last Sunday in May. Our kick-ass team – suitably named Team Lillian – was able to raise well over $2300 thanks to a ton of personal donations, as well as one large corporate donation from Kitchener-based LEDgendary Lighting (seriously cool Philips lighting and Color Kinetics products – check them out!).

2013's "Team Lillian"

2013’s “Team Lillian”

While gathering donations for this event, it made my heart happy to hear of the personal stories that people volunteered to share with me of how KidsAbility had helped their own children, nieces and nephews, or the children of friends. These stories reinforced the love I have for KidsAbility and instilled a desire in me to continue to participate in the KidsAbility Fun Run for as many years as I am able.

That being said, we are once again assembling a team for this year’s run! We will have our usual Facebook page, and link to our donation site up and running soon – if you would like to join our team, just let us know!

While the official site links and information have not been released (we will let you know when they are!), the sisters of Weather Vane Sisterhood are accepting donations as of today! We can arrange to meet with you in person to collect your donations, or you can email money transfer us your contribution to weathervanesisterhood@gmail.com.  

Remember: every little bit counts – to us, to you, to KidsAbility and most importantly, to the children. 

~ Toni

To us!

Eight years ago on this long weekend, something fairly magical happened.

Ben and I got married.

Just babies

Just babies

It was a wedding 30 months in the making.

It was a wedding that almost got cancelled because I was just graduating and Ben had lost his job, leaving us both unemployed and penniless. It didn’t get cancelled.

It was a wedding where we only met one couple that day – we knew everyone else we had invited. Both of us. All of them.

It was a day where we made official what we had already been practicing for our entire dating relationship – the delicate dance that is living each other’s lives with each other for each other.

It was cold and wet and rainy and there was some snow and very little sun.

It was perfect.

In the eight years since, we have held three of our children and said good bye to one.

We have survived our first apartment and bought our first house. We’re still in the first house, and we’re dreaming of the forever house.

We have watched friends get together, fall in love, get married, break up, get divorced, have babies, and go the distance.

We have worked a total of nine different jobs between the two of us. NINE. We have been unemployed a lot. We have worried about money a lot. We have never gone without what we’ve needed. NEVER.

We have worked hard in our church together. We have taken time away from our church apart. We have taken time away from our church together. We are working out what church means to our family right now. We never thought this would be a conversation or a question. Marriage has been surprising.

We have had really good times, where there was little to worry about and a lot to celebrate. We have had dark times, where the hole was deep and the pain was great and the light at the end of the tunnel was incredibly dim. In all the times we have stuck it out together.

We are a team. It’s what makes us strong and makes us work.

We are best friends. Seriously. I love talking to Ben. LOVE IT. It makes it tricky when I’m grumpy with him. That’s why God gave me so many sisters in family and in life. I’m sure of it.

We are in love. Not the shiny, new love of a dating couple, or a freshly engaged couple, or a couple just coming down the aisle, but the in-love of a couple who have endured more than few battles but are standing their ground in the war.

We take time to look up from the chaos around us, from the nuttiness that is having three kids under 6, and really seeing each other to make sure we’re both still okay.

We also forget to take time because of the nuttiness and we pay a price for that. And then we take the time.

We have a lot of stuff figured out. We have nothing figured out.

We are doing our very best with what we have. And it’s not going too horribly so far.

But we know it can all change in a second, an instant, a moment. It will not be the same tomorrow. It might be painfully the same tomorrow.

Eight years ago this weekend, friends and family came to our little town to help us celebrate us. And this weekend we went on a sad, old-married-couple date (dinner, shopping, hanging out with Dianne, Ben’s mom) to celebrate. But the date wasn’t sad. It was lovely. It was quiet, with conversation, hot food, and the best company.

Eight years ago I said yes to the boy beside me, having no idea what the heck I was agreeing to. Eight years later I’d say yes all over again. In a heartbeat. Because it was by far the smartest, best decision I’ve ever made and making it again over and over every day has proven to be the greatest blessing.

Funny faces

Ben – I love you. We’re 8! Here’s to the next 8 and beyond. I’m so glad it’s with you.

~ Julia