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Reviving A Failing Marriage – Part One

img_20171124_1901582519536863148206855.jpgIf you have been following my blog this year you have read some pretty honest revelations, including our family mental health challenges, and the state of our marriage, and our choice to seek counseling almost two years ago.  This weekend the Hubs and I gave ourselves the Christmas gift of a marriage getaway weekend at Blue Mountain. This choice was a combination of celebrating how far we’ve come, and making a show of our commitment to improving our relationship from recovering to thriving.
To give a little more history, or if you have not read my previous blog about our marriage,  a little less than two years ago we were on the brink of divorce.  Our marriage began when I was only 19, a very sheltered 19. Hubs was 25 and had been around the block when it came to experimenting, relationships, living situations, education, and most things you expect a 25 year old man to have experimented with.  We came into our marriage quickly, knowing each other for only eight months before becoming engaged and then married three short months after. To say we did not have the firmest foundation set out would be an understatement.  We did not have very much pre-marital counseling because our pastor was moving and we only had three months. We studied the 5 Love Languages book, and talked about how money, parents, and sex would be the most likely stress causing culprits in the marriage. All good things, we did not have time to really truly break down our different backgrounds, our own ideas on conflict resolution, and how we were going to handle money. These were all things that have definitely come back to bite us hard. As well as our lack of understanding our differences. I’m a bossy first born who would rather ask forgiveness than permission, I am extremely close with my traditional nuclear family and trust them and tell them everything, I hate confrontation but will passive aggressively make you suffer if I’m upset, and in order to figure out my feelings I must talk talk talk, I am an extrovert’s extrovert, but do tire out and need alone time eventually. Hubs is a middle child, very internal, he solves tension with humour or avoidance, he is very attached to his family growing up primarily in his mother’s home he grew up with very strong women in his life, he struggles with transparency when it may hurt or anger a loved one, he has a very soft heart but is not forthcoming with his feelings, he has to think through them before expressing them, but he will debate you within an inch of your life on theology or philosophy, he is an introvert who borders on hermitage at times (partially due to personality and partially to do with panic attacks). In the beginning of our marriage Hubs would actually tell me he thought we’d need a divorce because we had so little in common. I’d fight him on it, until we both got tired of fighting, hauled in our weapons and set camp up in separate parts of our lives. I ran outside the house looking for validation, comfort and affection, Hubs turned inwards for comfort, safety and quiet. We both became isolated and lonely, blaming the other one for our hurt. It got worse and worse, we grew farther and farther apart and hurt each other more and more.
Eventually we came to the edge of a precipice, where I was the one ready for the word divorce to be used. Up to this precipice I had been determined that the D word would not be threatened or used in vocabulary, but it came the time for me to lay it out. I was at my breaking point, well, I was broken, we both were. We were punctured through with holes from each other’s lances of resentment, cruel words, and lack of affection. We were bleeding out and our marriage was on the OR table for resuscitation. I went into Hubs one night, after gathering my whits and courage, and said that either we needed to fight for us or finally give up. He was surprised at this point that I had been the one feeling this way this time. He agreed to therapy for us and for himself as I’d already began my own. At this point I had discussed and spoken with many people and looked for answers and advice everywhere. I had heard from some to fight it through, and from many that divorce is not the worst choice in many ways. At this point the state of our marriage was visibly effecting our children and their relationship with each of us. There was blame shifting, behaviour outbursts, and outright belligerence.  It was time to cut and run, or dig in and work it all out. We were able to choose to dig in.
When we had agreed to work on it I went looking for a marriage counselor. I spoke with friends and family. At this point I was feeling wary of church counseling, and what was offered locally by our church was only older male counselors whom I had known as a small child, that made me feel on edge and not comfortable.  Especially since what I heard growing up in our denomination was “wives submit to your husbands”, “obey and serve your husband”, “women can teach children and women, but no men”, and now as an adult I have come to hold a more modern view of marriage and women in the marriage and the church. The prospect of walking into counseling and being told that only I needed to be working on making him happy, made me feel unsafe. At this point I was feeling extremely jaded by religion, not necessarily faith, but the institutional tradition that is church.  This was how we found our rock star marriage counselor Arlene. I had spoken with my dear friend Colleen about our choice to seek counseling and she connected us, and is the reason, I believe, that we have made it to this stage. Without Colleen championing us to the lovely Arlene, who was attempting to retire from her counseling days a bit, I think we would have not made it onto her client list. Without Arlene and Colleen we would never have made it to this weekend we just had.
Once we had finally connected with our Rock Star, we were nervous, scared, and still very angry with each other. Arlene asked us that first day if we were there for marriage counseling or separation counseling, Hubs very confidently responded with “marriage”, and I said “I don’t know.”  I think this surprised all of us.
Over the next months we relied on our parents to watch our boys so we could go to counseling sessions. We were given homework that we were highly reluctant to actually do because listening, and trusting, is scary. Talking about your feelings makes you vulnerable to this person who can utterly destroy you with a word or lack of one. We did this listening exercise less than we should have due to our mutual fear of confrontation, and personally for me, I felt unheard and bullied when we began. Not that he was meaning to convey that, but I was very raw as well.  We learned about what made us feel what, because we became more transparent, and I became better at voicing to him when I felt unheard. Slowly, very slowly we took baby steps over the next year. Listening more here, speaking up there, giving each other small allowances where we normally would have taken immediate offense, and having some doozy fights that we brought to Arlene and she taught us about resolving them. We were on  our way to figuring this mess out.

Stay tuned for Part Two




The Three Cardinal Rules of Grocery Shopping Etiquette

Today was BUSY!! Fabulous, and busy. I managed to squeeze in a quick grocery shop in between a client and picking up children from the bus. While at the store I was reminded of a few key rules that so many shoppers ignore this time of year, or maybe I’m just getting anal in my old age. (Insert laughter here)

#1: If you are under 60 years of age, do not have a disability or young children with you, please park farther away from the store where there is more plentiful parking, especially in the colder months with rain,s sleet and snow. I actually started doing this after my youngest turned two in order to up my step count, also I got a nicer parking spot beside the cart hut and able to drive through and face outward.  I remember having a young baby in a car seat this time of year and not being able to get into the family parking. It is not easy hauling a car seat and a four year old across the parking lot in a blizzard with the fear of my baby slipping out of my hand, or being hit by a car who’s driver does not see us.

#2 DRIVE SAFELY IN THE PARKING LOT!!! I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been hit by driver’s going to fast or backed into by someone who did not do  a proper shoulder check. Driving straight through a parking lot over parking spaces and not signalling is a great way to get in a fender bender. Treat the parking lot like the road: Obey the rules and respect other drivers and pedestrians.

Today I appeared as a right crazy person, I’m sure, as I pushed the carts around in the cart corral arranging them in type and lining them up in neat rows. Blame it on my slight perfectionist leanings and obsessive compulsive tendencies.  I hate seeing carts left abandoned all over the lot ready to smash into cars, or crammed improperly into corrals so there is no space, just out of a lack of mindfulness. Just line your F-ing carts up in the corral PLEASE!! It takes five seconds! Be considerate of the next patron and the cart people who have to come out and get them. Just have some common decency!

The Grocery shop went well, I spent $124. I procured most of what we need for the week, the rest I will purchase tomorrow at the local Maker’s Market. I am so excited for all of the fun tomorrow. Maker’s market, Global Giving mall, Christmas in Bayfield, Lunch with friends, the jewelry and art show my friend Libby is putting on, and the Goderich Christmas parade. So much fun Holiday things to do. I cannot wait.

Well, it was short and sweet, but that’s all folks!
I’m off to dreamland! G’night



November Rule

In our home it is basically a rule that in November we all get sick at least once. This year is no exception. I am fighting off a roaring sinus infection brought on by seasonal allergies and lack of sleep. Boy#2 is fighting off a cold that comes with a persistent cough, and Boy#1 has been a trooper so far with the edge of a raspy throat. Hubs is saying he’s feeling his ears fill. Ick. My philosophy is that if we get it through now we will all be well for Christmas. Let’s hope.
With the sickness comes tiredness, hence the lack of blogging for the last two days. The only thing that makes my sinus infections finally leave is sleep and sinus rinse.  So sleep and sinus rinses I have been doing. The boys have been given lots of honey, vitamins, probiotics, and are sleeping with an oil difuser. This will be over in no time.

On Monday I canceled my one single appointment in the morning because I felt so drained and horrid, and Boy#2 was home ill as well. We baked cookies, I made beef barley soup and Sweet potato butternut Barley soup, we made play dough as well. The night before I baked two banana breads.  After finishing the cookies I baked biscuits and delivered some of this food to a friend who was also home ill with her four kids. The boys had so much fun making things for the kids and prayed that they would all feel better.
The soup came out beautifully and has been feeding us all week. I also cooked a roast the night before and have been shaving that up to go in sandwiches. So far we have done not bad with eating what’s in the fridge.

Monday was a good day, it was exhausting, and my brain hurt, but it was awesome. I enjoyed spending time with my guys and making food with them. plus, I spent NOTHING that day! Hooray!
Tuesday I was not quite successful at not spending
I had the planned expenditure for my nails which I set aside money for every other week. My friend Sandra Harp is amazing at nails and we always get a great bitch session in. After this appointment I had clients all day, then I went to School council and we planned up a storm. After that I was starving because I never ate dinner so I did a stupid thing. I  went to walmart to get a few groceries like more bread and lunchmeat. I spend $58 and did buy some Christmas stuff. Then I bought myself some food at the bar with friends. about $15.
Today I slept until 11. My Boy#1 surprised me and got himself ready for school, did his music practice, and packed his own lunch, then he told me he would walk himself to the bus stop. It was such a beautiful thing. I don’t worry about him going to the bus stop alone because of my bus stop moms and because it’s only three houses down from us. He was such a gem today. Just so peaceful. After work and school it was time to head to swimming lessons. I caved and purchased a coffee and gum.  Then I took Boy#1 to church group and went back to Walmart to look for Christmas gifts. I spent $145 on gifts and two things of makeup for my kit.  That was definitely not all planned. But it was good to check some things off my list, like this:
Boy #2 is going to go crazy when he sees this Christmas morning!!! I’m excited.

After the shopping I picked up boy #1 and took him for a date to McDonald’s. It was only because my dad had given us coupns. It was crazy that I fed both of us and brought food home for Boy#2 for under $10. As well as coffee and dessert. While we were at McDonald’s a man came in who was obviously high as a kite and he bacame quite fascinated with Boy#1. He was chatting with him and telling him how he had swagger and needed to model, how he was jacking up Paw Patrol trucks for his nephew and that my guy should send in design ideas to a skateboard company. He kept telling Boy#1 how he had fetal alcohol syndrome, had been in and out of prison and how he was sober now but smoked Weed, (I think he was definitely on more than that, but maybe he was just very happy?). I must say that while both my son and I were wary and on edge, Boy#1 kept his composure and was very kind to this man. He waited until the man was called back to the counter then quietly asked to leave. We left and I asked if he felt upset, he said no, just awkward. He was very perceptive about this man and we discussed how if anyone approached him like that without an adult present he was to run and find another trusted adult and stick with them to be safe.

Tonight after getting home I went into full on get-rid-of-this-sinus-infection mode and nursed myself with sinus rinses, nasal spray, steam and rosemary oil, oiled my ears, drank a bunch of water and tea and took some meds. Now I am ready for bed. Tomorrow is a busy day and this weekend will be shopping for Christmas gift time. So many local sales on. Tomorrow is Ladies Night downtown, then the weekend is Christmas in Bayfield, My Friend Libby’s Jewelry show, the Maker’s Market at the museum again, and our Christmas parade. Busy times! So I shall rest up and tell you how it all goes.


No- spend Suspense

Well, I keep falling asleep with my kids. Sinus infections make me sleep a lot. I missed telling you about my having to spend $100 on mittens and hats!  It’s crazy how much warm mittens and hats cost!!! Thursday I gave Boy #2 a break day and we went to the Y for parent and tot track time, then snack, then we did some errands and i was HANGRY! I caved, I was weak and bought a small container of sushi, seaweed salad, and a fanta for Boy #2 for $15. A very ill-made decision based solely on hunger. Then we went to visit a very sweet friend and decorated cookies. That was a very fun way to not spend money. After picking the kids up off the bus, in snowy weather, I took my guys to find mittens and hats. That was two hats each, two pairs of mitts/gloves each and two pairs of gloves for me. I also realized I only had one pair of warm pajamas left and grabbed two pair for $30.  I spent within reason, but still more than I had planned. Gah.
Friday I worked all morning, then worked on laundry and putting away the Winter stuff. After I picked the boys up we got ready for one of their friends to come for a sleepover. When he got here the plan was to rent a movie and make fries and nuggets. I realized we were actually out of chicken nuggets, so I told the kids I’d be going to M&M’s to get chicken nuggets. Our guest informed me they have fabulous ribs, I also picked those up. I spent $46 in total with the videos and chicken, ribs, fries and jalapeno poppers. The kids loved it and then OD’d on sugar and crashed hard. It was not fun. But we survived and I crashed hard and fell asleep as soon as they fell asleep. Hubs filled and ran the dishwasher, he knows me. My life is better for him.
Today was Gymnastics at nine, then the Remembrance day service, then I headed out on my annual Christmas house tour trip with my mom, my MIL and SIL. We had a blast! And no money spent thanks to my mother buying my ticket and me not going out to the shops after. I did spend $40 on groceries for dinner and tomorrow. We had friends over for spaghetti and caesar salad tonight and it was really fun.  I prepared dinner for under $30 to feed eight of us with hand made croutons, fresh bacon, two kinds of meatballs and garlic cheese buns. Not too shabby.
Now I need a new front door mat, our old one is too small for winter sludge. The good news is I have not bought a coffee out except for the planned one last Sunday, and I have not bought pizza or McDonalds.  I do need to work on spending less on food still. Man, that part is hard with picky family and a love for cooking. Gah.

Meal Plan for Next week:

Breakfast – eggs, bacon, hashbrowns
Lunch – pasta
Supper – roast, squash and beans

Breakfast – bagels
Lunch –  beef and sauerkraut
Supper – Soup

Breakfast – cereal
Lunch –  pho
Supper – rice and meat

Breakfast- bagels
Lunch – mini quiche and cheese and olives
Supper – soup and crackers

Breakfast – cereal
Lunch – cous cous salad
Supper – grilled cheese

Breakfast – cereal
Lunch – curry
Supper – kraft dinner and tuna with veggies

Breakfast – egg sammies
Lunch – soup in a cup
Supper – quiche

Let’s see where this goes! Can I keep to it all week? Here’s hoping!



Two For One

Update time after falling asleep with the four year old last night at 8! Lol, at least once a week I do this. It’s good for the rest, until I wake up at midnight and can’t fall back to sleep until 2 a.m.
Catching up on Tuesday: I did well with no spend Tuesday. I stayed home and worked my butt off getting ready for the predicted snow coming this week. I stayed home and hung out with the 4 year old while the big boys went to a movie. The movie was a planned expense and it was on cheap night. Hubs treated himself to some pizza for lunch because I had gone out for coffee on Sunday. I stuck with the meal plan. Except I made dinner in the oven not the crock pot. Cauliflower stuffed with cheese and wrapped in chicken is AMAZEBALLS!!

I love cooking. Breakfast was bagels:
I totally forgot to take a picture until I ate it.

Today I woke up, made scones for MOPS, took the car in for an oil change and snow tires (planned expense), got a ride to MOPS, ate scones, went home, worked on some gorgeous hair, and totally missed lunch. There was the chink in my armor. I worked through lunch, didn’t have enough time to cook before swimming and caved to buying Loaded fries at the Y. They were totally worth it, and I avoided buying a drink, bought Boy#1 fries, and Boy #2 got nuggets. Hubs was very well disciplined and ate leftovers at home. Lesson of the day: Stay On Target! Try not to get distracted and plan a backup quick dinner!

I came home, did all the dishes, sorted out winter clothes, did laundry and am finally writing a blog at 2 a.m. Wahoo! Brain is done!

Yesterday and today were dedicated to preparing for Winter. I reveled in the sunshine and unseasonable warmth as I put away bikes, gave away the last vestiges of my children’s babyhood (goodbye stroller, push car and baby sled), cleaned away pumpkins and leaves, put the garden to bed (not all of it, just the bits that needed it), and hauled up all of the winter gear from the basement. I love this time of year, the chilly air, the promise of snow and Christmas, the crisp crunch of leaves and seeds, the time to take and reflect, remember and honour our veterans and those who have give their lives to give us freedom.  I love the unfolding of sweaters and coats, shaking out the woolly warmth of heavy blankets and flannel sheets. Late Autumn has it’s own winsome magic as it exits the stage to make way for Winter and it’s cozy charm.

It’s not usual to still see bright red leaves hanging to their cooling branches in mid November, but it is beautiful against a crispy sky. Who needs to spend money on pumpkin lattes when I get this part of Autumn!?
Now tomorrow I do plan on shopping off my list for extra hats and mittens for the boys, apparently they each only possess two toques and two pairs of cloves. Those will be gone by Monday. Boy#2 is staying home tomorrow for a break and we are planning some fun adventurous outings. Stay tuned!

Well, I’m off to my cozy bedclothes at 2:24 a.m.  I will sleep well tonight!



No-spend Weekend Take One

This weekend was our first attempt at not spending our way through a weekend. It was not completely successful. Usually we do quite a bit of off the cuff spending on weekends. Breakfast out, lunches at Mcdonald’s, coffees out all day, wal-mart trips and buying most of whatever we feel like. We cut all that out, but I think I learned a few things about where the other extra spending still happens. I braced myself against spending on coffee and food out, but I did not prepare for the extra grocery trip when plans changed, or the trip to the LCBO to pick up drinks for a friend (four words: Wine in a can).  I planned and set aside money for the annual Christmas Craft Show and stayed within the $25 limit I set for myself.  With that amount I purchased two Christmas presents and honey comb.  I set aside money for a scrapbooking day Saturday, but ended up having a terrible sinus infection and headache. I paid for the day but went home and had a nap, the money goes into a charity so I’m quite fine with that, and the nap was worth it. The Hubs and boys cleaned up the living room and made a lovely lunch while I tried to sleep away the pain. Then we hung out on the couch and played video games until it was time for boys to get to Nana’s for a sleepover. Hubs and I hung at home chilling out and letting ourselves feel sick together, sinus infection and upset stomach make a very unromantic night. However we did spend the evening relaxing which was nice. I ran out to get some brews for a friend who was home alone with kids, and I caved to the siren song of canned wine and pumpkin ale. That was $15 of unplanned spending. Friday we did groceries and gas, groceries came in under $80, but I went back yesterday and today and spend $40 and $20, so almost at the $150 mark, which is our weekly budget for groceries. Gas was $60 to fill up and our budget is $40 a week, so that should even out over the next week.  Today I spent $6 on a planned coffee date with a friend, turmeric latte at Cait’s Cafe, TOTALLY WORTH IT! Delicious! And the coffee date was very needed. We also put $4 in the plate at church today, which was not planned, but I need to start planning more than that back in again.

So far for menu planning, which I did Thursday evening, I am 0 for 3 dinners. Here’s the plan and what I have improvised so far:
B –   Pancakes   (we ran late, so bananas for all)
L –  Sushi (For Linc, he made it at the PD day)
S – homemade pizza  (I was so drooling over Linc’s sushi at lunch we went with homemade sushi instead)

B –   Bagels ( ran late for gymnastics, no breakfast, which led to a terrible headache)
L – Sammies (I fell asleep after taking my headache meds, so Hubs made breakfast for lunch, delicious)
S – Pasta (This was planned for the Hubs and kids because I was supposed to be eating at the scrapbooking day. We had no kids so went with beef sammies and turkey sammies with gnocchi and spinach. With a side of pumpkin ale)

B – Bacon and eggs  ( I woke up right before church, so I ran out without eating and had soup at church with the kids, thanks to the in laws who made the donation. Hubs made himself some though)
L – Snacks (kindof, but really we had soup and then chocolate bars before swimming)
S – Sunday Roast  (we went swimming at 3:30-4:45 and I forgot to take the roast out of the freezer. So we did spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread)

B – Cereal
L – Frozen dinner/campbell’s soup
S – Stirfry

B – Bagels
L – Leftovers
S – Crockpot chicken

B – Cereal
L – Sandwiches
S – Soup in thermos with crackers and cheese

B – Egos
L – Leftovers
S – Butter chicken and veg

B – Cereal
L – Sandwiches/Leftovers
S – Chicken nuggets and fries with raw veg

Let’s see how the rest of the week goes! Lol, I am trying.

Here’s to no Timmies tomorrow and more tea at home!



I was Going to go Buy Bread

But instead I sat down here, ate a chocolate bar and opened my computer. Then I watched a remarkable movie and didn’t write a thing. Now it is 11:49 p.m. and I have heart burn.
Yesterday I returned home form the Wild Women’s Weekend with my aunts and cousin and ripped my living rooms apart. They are in the process of being re-assembled (Thank you to my tired husband, and very kind friend Gael. She has a PHD and is extremely good at moving things over and over again, who knew!)  My piano is now in the room I shall dub “the parlour” and our television has been relocated to the rec room/playroom to be less of a distraction hopefully. It’s still here, but not the main focus. Now to rearrange and distribute. I was quite set on selling a shelf today, I did sell it, and now I am having second thoughts. Damn my second thoughts. They get me into trouble. It’s mostly because it fits now, but also because so many people wanted to buy it that it has obtained more value somehow. Ludicrous, I know.
The hard choices. I hate them. I hate purging, and I hate leaving for the gym, but I love the results. All things worth while are worth working for. I’m still allowed to complain about the process right?  I was going to do more rearranging tonight but I sat, and did nothing except enjoy a quite brilliant film. So, not nothing, something, just not an extremely productive thing.

Squirrel!! I just left to go pee and moved two pieces of furniture unsuccessfully. I have this beautiful green chaise that I like to use for waxing clients, but it is an awkward kind of shape and size, it is not finding a home here yet. It must. I will have it homed! There is also a large marble run that Hubs built for Boy#2 for his birthday. It is GIANT! No good place!

Now my brain is spinning with plans but I’m also tired and overwhelmed. My bed calls, and unproductivity looms large yet welcoming in my near future. Count it all joy. Tomorrow is a new day. It will all come out in the wash. Ta ta!