Friday, May 30, 2014

I Still Do...20 Years Later

Today is a very special day.  Today Shaun and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  May 30, 1994 was the day we entered into a covenant together and we've been living it out ever since.

In the days and months leading up to this day, I've thought a lot about where we've been, what has worked, what hasn't, why we've made it but others do not.

How do you sum up 20 years together...the better part of a lifetime, really.  Eating meatless pasta and cornflakes in excess when there was little money for food, remodeling countless old houses, earning college degrees, going on amazing vacations, family break-ups, jobs and promotions, one, two, three kids, ministry, quiet moments in the dark, deaths of grandparents, fostering, plenty and want.

When I think back on all the memories, my heart cannot contain it all.  Standing on the altar when we were 19 & 23, I could never have imagined how beautiful and full love would be after twenty years of living it.  Shaun is God's gift to me and I'm more sure of that than ever.

I made a slideshow with some of the pictures we have of us together (there aren't many) and showed it to the girls.  They liked it but thought the music was sad.  I had to agree with them, it didn't really match the mood I was going for, but I loved the message.

And if it wasn’t for God’s mercy and His grace
There’s no way we would be standing in this place
But because He has been faithful
Every step along the way
Here we are together

If it wasn't for God's mercy and His grace....He's been faithful.

Here's the original (beautiful, though a bit dramatic for our past circumstances) song:

I enjoy the anniversary dance that many do at their wedding reception...pull all the married couples onto the dance floor and slowly eliminate people as the number of years wed climbs higher.  Usually the couple left has been married 30, 40, 50 years.  I love to hear their words of advice as to how they've made it work.

However, at the last wedding I photographed, I realized some of the advice does not fit all couples when the wife said, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger....stay up all night and fight it out!"

I thought, I cannot think of many things much more detrimental than me staying up all night to fight.  On the contrary, if I'm feeling like I want to fight, sleep is usually one of my greatest needs!  :)

I asked Shaun why he thinks we've had an amazing marriage, but his comment was not helpful with this blog post.

So many thoughts swirl through my head, its hard to grab them and put them in an order.  Perhaps in the coming months I'll put together some posts containing the bits of wisdom I've gained (and am daily learning!).  For now, since I love quotes, here are some that reflect my feelings on marriage.


Shaun, thank you for the fairytale we've had for these 24 years together.  There is NO one I'd rather be doing life beside.  Can't wait to be your wife for the next 20!  We are blessed, so very, very blessed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Boston Run

Back when it was cold and there was snow on the ground, I signed up for this half marathon in Boston.  The "Remember" part was for the fallen first responders of the city.

Pop and Kiki kept the kids overnight so we could get up at 3:45 AM to make it to the 7 AM start.  Once we got close, Shaun dropped me off so I could pick up my registration packet and he could park.  We were able to meet up for a quick kiss before I ducked into the starting line.   It was SO great to have him there with me. 

Between the 5-mile and the Half, there were 13,000 runners!  We were packed in, just like the Thanksgiving Day race I do every year.

So tight, in fact, it was after mile 3 before I could get into my pace.  And I knew my pace because I was wearing the Garmin that Shaun and the kids had gotten me for Mother's Day.  WOW...what a difference maker to be able to know what my pace is while I'm running.  Go figure!  :)
(from their FB page)

From my perspective:
And Shaun's:

The course was amazingly beautiful!!  We crossed the Charles River and then ran along it.  I passed the Boston Ballet and ran down Commonwealth Ave.  It was so quiet and picturesque.  The weather was PERFECT...mid 50's and really doesn't get better for running.
No backpacks were allowed, no spectators were allowed at the finish line and many places were closed off.  There was a definite sense that some of our freedom was taken away by the acts of the two at the Boston Marathon.  So sad.
I finished in 2:01:59, which is a 9:19 pace, 484-1408 for females 30-39 and 3198th place overall.  Since I have my fancy new Garmin, I have all kinds of information available.  This is most of my race data until it went wonky at the end (Shaun thinks the tall, tight buildings might have interfered with the signal:

I didn't get the sub-2 I was hoping for, but I felt strong and am happy with my results.  And next year I'll line up closer to the start line!

It was SO much fun...doing something I love, in a city I love, with the person I love.  I'm thankful for two legs that faithfully carry me!

I'm also grateful for the support I get from friends and family.  Minutes after I crossed the finish line there was a text from my sister, wondering how I did and people ask regularly about my training and progress.  Even though you might not understand my craziness, you show that you care, and that means so much!

Monday, May 26, 2014


Thanking God today for the freedom I so easily take for granted.  So very thankful for all those who have made great sacrifices to pursue and protect our freedom and so very proud to be an American.

A special thanks to my very favorite veterans:

My brother Tim (Major), currently serving as Chaplain in the National Guard.
Shaun's grandfather, Chic, who served in the Navy during WW II.
Shaun's (deceased) grandfather, George who served in the Navy during WW II.
We honor you today and say thank you.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Project 365, Week 21

May 18
We continued our celebration of (and recovery from) R's birthday.  We spent some time at Sarah's house, soaking in the sweetness of this little guy.

May 19
Work on the trench continues....

May 20
Tough day on the job.  :)  My boss invited all of us to a conference in Boston.  The food and location were exquisite and the people warm and brimming with knowledge.

Colombo is highly respected in this community and I'm always to proud to go and be associated with such a class act.  He does all his dealings with integrity and always tries to do the right thing, whatever the cost.

I also got to ride up and back with our two other employees, both great women and fun to be with.

 This was my view from the deck where we sat in the evening sun enjoying hor d'oeuvres .
 While I was there, Amy sent me these of the Roman bath house...
 ...and later Aiden proudly told me that they'd turned the water black.  :)
 And back at the house, Nathan sent me this, along with this quote from Aiden:

Hakuna matata.  It means no Amanda for the rest of your days.  Its your problem free thilosoby.  :)
 May 21
My sweet little Catholic school girl.

 May 22
I finally bit the bullet and reached out to a running coach.  I'm not planning on winning any races, but I feel like I've exhausted my expertise and have proved myself faithful in the training I've done on my own.  I'd like to better my pace and prevent injury and I found someone at a price I could swallow.

Anyway, they had me come in to get a baseline.  I ran a total of two miles around the track, at varying paces and every two laps I'd stop so they could take a little blood and check my heart rate.

At the end, one of the trainers said, HOW old are you??  39. have the heart of a young buck.  Why, thank you!  That is one of the top five reasons I do what I do.  (I also live for the inevitable reaction of the nurse taking my blood pressure exclaiming how low it is).

Walking in there I felt a little like an old, frumpy mom, among these twenty-something elite athletes, but I'm determined to get out of it what's right for me.  Wish me luck!  :)

 The kids had a half day, so Avery found some science experiments for the three of them to do.  There was an oil and water one,
 and shadow puppets.

 They also made a fort in anticipation of the long weekend when they are allowed to sleep in the same bed.
 May 23
I met with the high school guidance counselor and made some...ah, adjustments to next year's class schedule that R and a counselor had put together.  Lifeguard Training and Culinary I are out, AP English and Honors Physics are in.  :)

It took a while, so I got to read all the signs around the room.  I have NEVER subscribed to the theory that there are no dumb questions.  SO not true!
 Amanda had her first non-family playdate.  She was a little nervous and so was I, but they are a super sweet family from school and it was just the two girls and the mom.

These two have recently formed a bond because they have stuck up for each other and have refused to be a part of the meanness that many of the other second-grade girls are participating in.  SO sad that we're already dealing with that but I'm proud of Amanda for standing up for what she believes.  We've got a long road ahead!
May 24
While Pop and Kiki were with R at his last track meet, cousins were with us at the kids games, which happened to be in the same place at the same time.

 Loving this time in our lives right now.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In my heart, I'm a city girl.  I like the convenience of having everything I need within walking distance, I like the street lights, the people, the more-bang-for-your-buck houses.  But I'm also oddly drawn to the idea of homesteading, too.

I love the idea of being self-sufficient and, "living off the land" really appeals to my strong frugal/cheap side.  Also, I enjoy eating healthy and it would be awesome if organic was an affordable option.  And never having to leave home?  Perfect!

However, when my mind wanders to that concept of life, I'm pulled up short by a couple things.  First and foremost, the animals.  UGH!  Our dumb dog is more than I can take some days, imagine tossing a goat or chickens in there.  City girl says double ugh!

There is also the matter of sewing clothes.  Around here, if a button falls off, we render the garment useless until one of our moms comes around.  I don't need fancy clothes, but I do need to not be sewing my own.

Anyway.  Last year when we moved to a bigger yard, I started scheming about putting in some type of a garden.  I did a little research and found that raised beds would probably make the most sense for our situation.

When I ran the idea by Shaun, he gently (and wisely) suggested that I spend a little more time making sure I can handle the plant life that we already have before adding more.  Given my track record, that was totally reasonable.

Well, for Mother's Day my crew surprised me with my very own garden.  Shaun had gotten dirt and we had lumber and they got to work.

We thought we'd start small this year and see how it goes.  Can I actually keep non-human living things alive?  Will I follow through?  Will the dumb dog insist on making it his expressway for chasing cats? Will it fall to the sword or be systematically beaten with a whip while the inflictor is singing Let It Go at the top of his lungs?  Ahem...
Only time will tell.  :)

While the boys were collecting lumber, the girls and I went to get plants.  The selection was terrible, so I resorted to seeds.

 When I got home and read the spacing requirements of these tiny little seeds, I realized just how small the garden really is.  (Can I in good conscience call it a garden??  It feels a little misleading.)

If it'd been up to me, we would have filled the space with tomato plants, but of the six of us, only Amanda and I like tomatoes.  And so, we have carrots, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes.

The planning and planting of it was fun and if that's all we get out of it, that's ok.  In fact, there is better than a 50% chance that IS all we'll get.  Possibly a life-lesson or two thrown in for good measure.  :)

To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,a joyous blessing instead of mourning,    festive praise instead of despair.In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:3