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.

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.

Such Great Heights

To My Very Dearest,

Eight years ago we were married.  We hadn’t known each other for nearly long enough, and we jumped the gun at nearly every turn with regards to everything to do with our wedding.  Anyone who knows us well, with our impetuous ways, toweringly high dreams and ideas, and fearless optimism as a couple, will know that the way we got married suits us.  I still think that one of the best quotes for us is this one from The Postal Service:

They will see us waving from such great
Heights, ‘come down now,’ they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
‘come down now,’ but we’ll stay…

When I met you, it was one of my first days in Knoxville, right before classes started at the University of Tennessee.  I was newly Mormon, and you were a Return Missionary.  The very first time I saw you, I was smitten.  Here was a guy who was smokin’ hot, funny, intelligent, and just a really nice guy.  You became my home teacher; I lost all ability to speak coherently when you were around.

Still, even with obstacles like my early speech impairment, my kind-of dating your brother, some Shakespearian-type comedies of error, and the fact that I didn’t like Chinese food, we still fell in love.  (And give me credit for not going into detail about your poorly thought out “theory”!) Continue reading

Bible Challenge

Conner and I have challenged ourselves to read the entire New Testament before the year ends.

A couple of years ago, when we were active LDS members, the president of the church challenged all its members to read the Book of Mormon before year end. This was done in August, I believe. Conner and I both began in September, or maybe October. And we both finished with a couple of days to spare. (It is possible that I skipped some of the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi, but who can blame me?)

I found the whole process to be quite spiritually rewarding. At the time, I believed that the BoM was God’s word. I believed I was following a prophet’s directive. And I was doing my best to be the best that I could be. I would read the BoM on the subway on my way to or from work (usually not both, because I wanted to be able to knit on the train too). I wound up thinking about what I was reading about throughout the day, and making connections between the stories that I wouldn’t have noticed with a slower read through.

I’m hoping that our current challenge will have a similar positive effect. If nothing else, it will make me more familiar with the Bible, as I haven’t read all of the NT before. I’m currently reading The Message paraphrase. At some point I’ll probably get a Bible study (any recommendations? Why did you or didn’t you like what you used?). I also hope that reading it will have some of the transformative power to make me a better person. And, probably most important, I hope that it will help me draw closer to Jesus.

I’ve started with the Gospel of Mark. There are two reasons for this. First, at church they’ve been doing a sermon series on the Gospel of Mark. Second, I’ve often decided to read the entire NT, and started at Matthew… and stopped within Matthew.

It’s Not Fair

I’ve been thinking for a couple of days about the concept of fairness, specifically with regards to relationships.  Admittedly, I’ll often get upset at Conner because I perceive something as being “unfair”.  But what does that mean?  If I think something isn’t fair, what am I actually expecting?

A hypothetical example of a situation which might upset me due to its unfairness:

Let’s say Conner, who’s in law school right now, spent the day at school, during his breaks between classes hung out with his friends, and then went out with his buddies for a drink, and then, coming home after the kids are in bed, spends the evening studying and expects me to cook dinner.  Let’s say that I spent the day dealing with whiny, sick kids who refused to eat everything I gave to them, had more dirty diapers than would seem possible.  And for good measure, let’s pretend that it’s a rainy day, so we couldn’t even go outside to play.

I can imagine me getting upset, and thinking that it wasn’t fair.

But does that really make sense?  No matter what happened, there would be no way of making our lives fair and even because we’re not the same person.  We don’t have the same goals, dreams, fears, irritations, responsibilities, life experiences.  There’s no way to make it fair.  I think that I could say that in the hypothetical I posed that Conner was being inconsiderate of me and my feelings.  That’s something that is concrete and able to be fixed.  But to say that the situation isn’t fair–what would make it fair?  Since we aren’t both doing the same things, there would be no way of making it equal.

Perhaps one would say that fair isn’t about having the same things, but of equally shared responsibilities.  But that also doesn’t really pan out in practice.  So for every diaper Conner changes (because he does the bulk of them), I should change one?   For every dish that he washes (because that’s another of his chores), I should wash one?

What about for every hour he spends with friends–should I have the same?  Maybe in theory… but in practice we probably have different needs when it comes to sociability.  What if I happen to need more (or less) time with friends in order to feel fulfilled?

So, fair isn’t really a goal to strive for, I think.  And fair isn’t a good tactic to use in an argument.  In a relationship, we should not strive for things to be fair.  Instead, I think maybe we should strive for both parties to be fulfilled and satisfied, taking into account our different needs.