Ink for 15

According to the lists I found on the Internet, on the 15th wedding anniversary the gift should either be watches or crystal.  I have a works-well-enough-for-me watch and no desire to own any crystal.  Like, ever.  So Kullervo and I decided that we would forgo tradition and go for ink instead.  While he has a handful of tattoos, this would be my first, so I wanted to make sure it was just right.

Our next decision involved figuring out what the tattoo should be.  What would represent us–fifteen years of us–with all of our inside jokes and arguments and values?  On a long road trip home from Tennessee, we made a list.  We wrote down all the things that we could think of that described Kullervo, and me, and us, looking for something to jump out at us.

Nothing did.  Or, rather, nothing did in such a way as to really capture who we are in a form that would translate to skin.

Driving down the Interstate, we grew quiet.  The radio was playing, the kids were reading, and we were lost in our own thoughts.

Some time later, Kullervo said that he might have an idea.  At the same moment, I thought that maybe I did as well.

He wanted me to listen to something, and cued up a YouTube video for me to listen to.

While we waited through the ad at the beginning, I butted in, “What about a mason jar?”

His video came through, and we listened to this together.

This is a part of a series called “For the Life of the World” and is really a fantastic video series.  And in this chapter about love, hipster Adam and hipster Eve say yes to each other.  To sacrifice and to pouring themselves out into the world, into children, into messiness and brokenness.  They say yes to each other.

As it happens, when Kullervo and I got married in the Mormon temple, we didn’t say ‘I do’… we said ‘yes.’

And right then, we both knew that our tattoo had to say yes.

But what about the mason jar?  Why that?

We only drink out of mason jars.  Water, chocolate milk (don’t judge), beer, wine… we serve it in a mason jar.

And if you know us, you might know that we have intentionally structured our life in such a way as to follow Jesus Christ as best as we can.  And one of the ways that we really try to radically live that out is through hospitality.  What’s radical about hospitality?  After all, it sounds like the same kind of radical that geometry homework is.  Or being told that your talent is that you’re a compassionate person.  It sort of sounds boring.

But here’s the thing.  You can come to our house.  It will be messy, it will be chaotic, but you are welcome here.    At midnight, you can show up at our door without notice, and we will bring you in and feed you and love you and not resent it even one bit.  More on that here:

Not only that, but a few years ago, we started canning our extra food and making our own jam.  We grow some food, we preserve it, and when we pop open a jar of tomatoes to toss into our spaghetti sauce, we wash the glass and it joins the other glasses.  And when we have too many glasses, we realize it’s time to start canning again.  There is something really neat about the ebb and flow of having, and then pouring what we have out for the sustenance of our family, and then taking what’s left and pouring into it for the short term needs of hydration.  Our mason jars are work horses.

For us, the mason jar represents following Jesus and living into the gifts He provides and the ways we can use those gifts to provide for others.  It represents our marriage because we intentionally live into that, with all of the messiness and sacrifice that it brings.

So, sitting in the car that day, we realized we’d both just had the right idea.  And we realized that a mason jar, which usually has the brand name written on the side, could say Yes instead.  All of a sudden, we had our tattoo.

*Note:  I asked Kullervo what to say when people ask what the tattoos mean, because this is sort of a long-winded explanation.  His response?

“Just say that it’s some hipster shit.”


Dinner at a hipster restaurant post-tattoo.

From John the Baptist to Mormon Missionary

Kullervo grew a beard.  Why?  Well, why not?

I kept trying to feed him locusts and honey.

I kept trying to feed him locusts and honey.

He’s an adventurous eater, but apparently the bugs weren’t filling enough or whatever.

Chester A. Arthur

Chester A. Arthur

To punish me for the bug incident, he made me learn American History.  Did you know that Chester A. Arthur was a U.S. President?

Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn?  Clark Gable?

He spoke with an Australian accent… or was it Southern?  However, his swash-buckling swordsmanship was too much for this post-partum mama, so he called me a dear and told me he didn’t give a damn.

Off to preach the word!  The word of LAW, that is.

Off to preach the word! The word of LAW, that is.

He may look like an LDS missionary, but this dude is just headed off to work to gain people’s trusts so he can take their estates.  Or something like that.

Whatever he looks like, I love this man.

A Fall Wreath

I am not an artistic person.  Like, at all.  I find art galleries boring.  I can’t draw a recognizable stick figure.

Don’t get me wrong—I can be quite creative (it’s a hidden talent of accountants, and contributes to much of the financial fraud in the world…).  I can cook you a meal that you will enjoy.  I can spin my children’s nightmares into funny stories that aren’t scary anymore.  I can knit, and I can hold a tune well enough to not hurt your ears with both my voice and my fiddle (though maybe not at the same time).  I can come up with all sorts of creative ways to procrastinate doing housework.  I can be witty, and I can insult you in that Southern style that takes you until I’ve left the room to figure out that I was actually being nasty.

But I don’t find Pinterest interesting.  I don’t browse it for ideas, or for decorating eye candy, or for fun.  I don’t find making art projects to be anything other than messy and stressful.  I have to really work at being the kind of mom who helps my kids achieve their creative endeavors.  I think in words, and spend all day creating word pictures.  I think some people think in pictures, or think more abstractly, and are able to translate those ideas into something beautiful.  I don’t see pictures in my mind of how I want something I am making to turn out, and if I did, whatever I was trying to create would most certainly not turn out that way, but would be such a bastardized outcome that might scare my children because it would be so macabre.

This is in high definition contrast to my sweet Kullervo, who not only grew up the child of two amazing artists, but also is quite talented himself.  (Don’t listen to his protests—he’s lying.)  Along with being capable at bringing ideas to life, he is also my Myers-Briggs opposite, and thinks in concepts.  (Most of our arguments can be traced back to my very concrete literalness and his vague approximations.)

We have been wanting to put up festive seasonal decorations.  I wanted to buy a wreath for our door—we have a door!  It’s OUR door!  It should be decorated and look elegant!  Kullervo, who has a hard time accepting that I am so incompetent at something that would come so easily to him, suggested that we (I) make a wreath.  I gamely went along with it–people like doing this stuff!  It must be fun!

I will not make that mistake again (and I imagine that Kullervo will, next time, take matters into his own hands if he wants a homemade art project).  I went to a craft store and got supplies to make a wreath—a foam circle, some other stuff that looked fall-like, gold spray paint, wire, and a door hook.  How hard could this be?

It turns out, basically impossible for me.  And, messy.

I spray painted the foam gold.  I managed to stretch out how long I waited for it to dry for at least three weeks, just in case.  Then I wrapped some woodsy looking stuff around the outside, and cursed at how challenging it was to make it stay in place.  And I broke a pair of scissors trying to cut it to the right size, because they only make scissors for right handed people, and I can only use left handed scissors despite being a righty.

These used to be my favorite pair of kitchen scissors.

These used to be my favorite pair of kitchen scissors.

After securing the woodsy garland to the foam (not particularly well–I don’t really have the patience to care if it isn’t perfect, which is probably why I’m not cut out for this stuff), I took a fall leaves garland and tried to make that look festive.  I failed.

This is not festive.  Or attached.

This is not festive. Or attached.

I decided to take a break (from not accomplishing anything), and took my little one outside for a bit to play ball.  He wanted to play Superman instead.  Fair enough.  He probably recognized my need for a hero.

Our front door version of a phone booth...

Our front door version of a phone booth…

After I put him down for his afternoon nap, I tried again.  Dammit, I will not be defeated by craft materials.  I have standards, and they are (slightly) higher than that!  So, I persisted, and I’ll be darned if there isn’t now something relatively unsightly and unprofessional looking hanging outside.

This isn't very pretty either.

This isn’t very pretty either.


I hung it up where Kullervo can't miss it.

I hung it up where Kullervo can’t miss it.

After I hung it up, I found more doodads that I had not figured out how to attach.  So, I have precariously perched them on the wreath.  I plan to cry if anyone disturbs it.

After I hung it up, I found more doodads that I had not figured out how to attach. So, I have precariously perched them on the wreath. I plan to cry if anyone disturbs it.  That’ll show them.

I am pretty sure I have learned my lesson–this is not my cuppa.  Some people can make wonderful, creative, beautiful things for their homes.  I can too–they’re called children.  And dinner.

Next time we want a homemade wreath, I’m delegating.  And then I’ll be a good accountant and balance the checkbook.

The Tumble Outta Eden

Genesis 3: The Fall of Man

So, reading about the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, this is what I was thinking about and focusing on.

In vs. 16, Eve is given the consequences of eating the fruit.  Specifically, God says that He will “greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Continue reading

Support (No Bra Required)

It is still anniversary week, and I thought I would post some more about my amazing, sexy husband.  I hope it winds up making sense, as I am functioning on about ten total hours of sleep since Saturday night.  Anyway, it seems especially relevant right now, this week, with everything that has been going on.

One of the aspects of our relationship that I don’t know that we had (or even knew we wanted) when we first got married was to be supportive of each other.  And I mean supportive financially, spiritually, emotionally, and aspirationally.  But I think we would both say that we have worked really hard on being loving and supportive of each other at various times in the last nine years. Continue reading

Getting Married Was My Biggest Mistake-And I’m So Glad I Made It

I got married for all the wrong reasons.  I was 19, and for the first time in my life I was in a relationship with someone who was brilliantly smart, incredibly handsome, strong, and kind.  I was new to the Mormon church, and he was a newly returned missionary when I met him.  I was in awe of how much he knew about the gospel, and how all that knowledge seemed so effortless.  It was just a part of who he was.

I remember the first time I saw Kullervo—it was at church and I thought he must have been the cutest boy ever.  I said that I’d marry him someday.  It took my first semester of college pining after him before I went home for Christmas break and decided to give up and not waste all of college with a crush on a boy who wasn’t interested.  When I came back to school, though, he asked me out.  And I said yes.

The next few months were a whirlwind.  We spent all of our time together that we could.  His family was so nice to me and made me feel like a part of the family.  He was still so smart and so lovely—total eye and brain candy for me.  Of course I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him!

But… what did I know?  I was just barely out of high school!  I was in a new town, in a new church, in a whole new life.  We got married that summer—as soon as the church would let us marry in the temple—and everything was wonderful.  Then the fighting started.  We were young, neither of us had had a lot of relationships, and we had to sort of figure it all out on our own.  We fought about everything—whether to get butter or margarine at the grocery store, how often we should be having sex (it turns out that five times a day just isn’t sustainable no matter how attracted you are to each other!), what we did in our spare time.  I think some people close to us were certain that we wouldn’t still be married after the first year was up.

Over the years, some of those disagreements we have resolved (we buy butter and margarine), and some still plague us (we always fight about driving directions).  More important than what we fight about is how we fight.  Being married to Conner taught me how to resolve a conflict.  Growing up, when I would fight with my sisters, we would be mad at each other until we made each other laugh… and then we would never talk about what we’d fought about.  I don’t know that I’ve ever resolved a fight with my sisters—we’ve just moved on.  So we probably would still fight about the same issues as we did when we were kids.  (Luckily, I rarely fight with my sisters because we live too far for it to matter too much, and they’re both awesome.  I never fight with my brother because he’s not the fighting kind.)

So we survived the first year, and our marriage was strong.  We moved—first to Tallahassee, and then to New York.  We struggled to get pregnant… and then pregnancy surprised us when we were no longer trying (and at a fairly inconvenient time, I might add).   We were sure that having a baby would change everything, but we really just had no idea.  We had been married for five years, and we were so used to being just us.   Having that change was a really difficult adjustment, and one we had to make again when we had Hazel.  And we weathered those storms and came out on top.

We are almost nine years into this, and I couldn’t be happier.  I think we got married when we were unreasonably young, and for all the wrong reasons, and without a clue of how to do this.  But I also think that we persevered and learned a lot as we went.  We work really hard to communicate when things aren’t okay, and when they are, and to support each other in our crazy dreams and wishes and feelings.  And it works for us.

Anniversary Week

Sunday, July 25 will be the ninth anniversary of the day Kullervo and I got married.  In honor of that, for the next few days I plan on posting all kinds of stuff about why I’m still madly in love with him.  So, it’s corny, and it might be so nauseatingly sweet at times that it would be preferable to look at a Pepto-Bismol bottle than my blog, but I don’t care.